Ohio voters would lose most of their Election Day polling places under a plan for centralized voting pushed by the head of the group representing county elections officials. Urban areas such as Franklin County could see a reduction of 60 to 75 percent, translating into a potential drop from the current 404 voting locales to perhaps a little more than 100. The tradeoffs: Voters could cast a ballot from any polling location in their home county. And the cost to run elections would drop substantially, especially with most Ohio counties due to replace aging voting equipment. “The more I talk to people nationally, the more I read and learn, this has the potential to be a game-changer for voters, for taxpayers and for elections administrators,” said Aaron Ockerman, executive director of the Ohio Association of Election Officials. “We’ve got to be more efficient. We have to take advantage of technology and think outside of the box.”
Franklin County Elections Director William Anthony said, “I think it’s a good plan. … I think that, in the end, it would save a lot of money.”
The concept, which would remove fewer voting places in rural areas, already is in place in several states, including Indiana. Larimer County (Fort Collins) in Colorado pioneered their use in 2003. Many Texas counties use regional voting centers and report high satisfaction.
“For some states it is practical, and for some states it is not practical,” said Matthew Masterson, who recently left the Ohio secretary of state’s office to serve as one of four members of the federal Elections Assistance Commission.