County moves forward on conversion to vote centers
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 11:00 AM
Switzerland County Clerk Kim Hambrick met with local residents and officials Tuesday to discuss her county's switch from the traditional precinct-voting model to vote centers.
While vote centers do not eliminate precincts, they do allow registered voters to cast a ballot at any location in the county. Counties with the system use an electronic voting poll book to synch locations together on Election Day and during early voting.
Switzerland County switched to vote centers in 2012 - the last presidential election - and Hambrick said the shift has gone smoothly and even led to saving $60,000.
"To me, it's so much simpler," she said, adding that her county saved on poll worker fees, worker meals and fees to lease locations on Election Day.
Secretary of State Connie Lawson has encouraged counties to consider moving to vote centers, and a study committee of Jefferson County residents and officials is eager to craft its own plan before it becomes a state mandate.
Hambrick said Switzerland County developed its own plan to identify the needs specific to its voters. The result has been traveling centers during early voting and then a stationary location on Election Day.
She said the biggest supporters are the older voters.
"The felt like they had control (in the process)," she said.
Jefferson County has 26 precincts and nearly 23,000 registered voters. The county would need three vote centers on Election Day, but the study committee has discussed creating mobile voting centers for early voting.
The earliest possible switch to vote centers in Jefferson County would be in 2015, which is the city election.
After hearing Hambrick discuss the positives of vote centers, the study committee agreed to continue with the project. The committee will create a subcommittee to craft a plan.
The next step would be a public hearing, and then a resolution from the County Council and Board of Commissioners.
The Indiana Secretary of State's office must approve the final proposal.