The Herald Bulletin

November 4, 2013

Viewpoint: No to proposed 'vote centers' proposal in county

By James Hensley Anderson resident
The Herald Bulletin

---- — The Sept. 18 presentation by our Madison County Election Board raised many concerns regarding the proposed changes to our voting procedures in Madison County. While I appreciate the hard work that obviously went into developing the proposal and the public presentation, I disagree with the proposal.

My major concern is the lack of a paper trail. This would mean taxpayers of Madison County would be spending approximately $100,000 for a system that has no hard copy verification. Also, precinct committeemen and other grass-roots groups would have no access to information regarding who has/has not voted, until after voting hours are over. This is clearly unacceptable.

Reducing the voting locations from 110 to 25 is also unacceptable. I understand that some of the voting sites are underutilized and am not opposed to reducing the number of voting sites by a few; however, the proposed reduction of them from 110 to 25 would place Madison County voters in a very vulnerable position. While our Election Board may have very honorable intentions, they cannot assure us that Gov. Pence or our super-majority Legislature will not then determine that the extra voting hours are not necessary. With voter suppression being imposed across our country by states just like Indiana, with Republican mayors and Republican majority legislatures, it makes us wonder if ours would follow suit. This would leave us in the same position of Ohio, Florida and all the other voter suppression states — folks waiting in long lines for many hours, just to cast their vote.

Even if we were to receive assurance from Gov. Pence, the State Election Board and the state Legislature that voting hours would not be reduced, how could we believe them? Former Gov. Mitch Daniels promised unions that he would not support, not propose “Right to Work,” then proceeded to do exactly that. The saying “Fool me once — it is your fault, fool me twice and it is my fault” comes to mind. We must never take that kind of chance with our voting rights.

It is no secret who would benefit from reducing our voting rights and who suffers from it. Taking this risk is unacceptable. Even retired U.S. 7th Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner, author of the landmark decision upholding Indiana’s voter ID law, now says he was wrong! He recently said he did not realize it would actually disenfranchise people entitled to vote.

After long lines marred the 2012 election, some states are now supporting bills in the states to increase registration opportunities, expand early voting and modernize election systems. Nearly 200 bills to expand voting access have been introduced in 45 states in 2013. Of those, 41 bills in 21 states are currently active (some form of activity, such as a hearing or vote). Three states — New Mexico, Oklahoma and Virginia — have already passed expansive laws. Many of these new bills are drawing bipartisan support. Let us not take the chance of heading in the opposition direction.

I do not oppose satellite voting centers and extended voting hours. Anything that makes voting more convenient is welcome, but reducing our voting centers from 110 to 25 and no access to records showing who has voted, during voting hours, is not acceptable.