Press release from the Indiana House Republicans:
House Republicans fast track Vote Center bill
House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) recently indicated that House Republicans would be “fast tracking” Senate Bill 32, a bill that authorizes the use of Vote Centers statewide. Vote Centers, a concept piloted in Tippecanoe, Cass, and Wayne Counties, may be one means to increase ballot access for Hoosier voters, and decrease the cost of future elections.
The reason for the fast tracking is due to the cost savings and convenience to the voters as seen in the three pilot counties. The bill has sped through the legislative process to allow sufficient time for county to implement Vote Centers prior to the May municipal elections. Previous legislation from 2006 put into operation pilot vote centers in these counties, allowing voters to cast their ballots at a centrally located Vote Center of their choosing, in contrast to the traditional precinct voting process where residents are assigned to a specific polling location on election day only- by precincts. By law, precincts have no more than 1,200 registered voters to keep Election Day crowds manageable.
Tens of thousands of volunteers are recruited annually to run statewide elections, with most receiving a modest stipend for their Election Day efforts, and rental costs for polling places being incurred. While the costs of an individual polling site are modest, when multiplied by the large number of precincts statewide, election costs add up. It’s a small price to pay for democracy, but if SB 32 can bring about more efficiency with our dollars and increase voter participation at the same time, it will be a win-win result.
Vote centers, as proposed in SB 32, incentivize an increase in attendance at the polls by making the process more convenient for voters. With vote centers located across each county, county residents would be able to cast their vote in any of the open vote centers and not be limited to a certain precinct site.
“Voting Centers aim to expand Hoosier participation in our elections. They provide flexibility to the voter by expanding accessibility across the county, a convenience the previous precinct system was unable to provide,” said House Sponsor of SB 32, Rep. Randy Truitt (R-West Lafayette). “The democratic process should not be burdensome but easily accessible by any Hoosier who wants to cast their vote.”
But, vote centers benefit more than just the voter – they also benefit the taxpayer. With the creation of vote centers, the traditional precinct voting location is phased out, saving the county – and taxpayers – hard cash. Vote centers would have all of the ballots for the entire county at each voting location, and participants could pick a location and time that is right for them. According to a recent estimate from the Tippecanoe County Clerk-elect, this arrangement has resulted in $50,000 in savings in labor alone for each election during Tippecanoe County’s pilot experience.