California: In a handful of California counties, polling places are giving way to a sweeping new election system | Los Angeles Times

The neighborhood polling place, a staple of American elections, has disappeared as election day arrives in five California counties — the first sites to transition to a sweeping new system dependent on absentee ballots and a limited number of all-purpose voting centers. It is a major change, far beyond the tinkering in years past. And when it spreads to California’s most populous cities and communities in 2020, the new system probably will lead to a rethinking of what it means to conduct an election. “Forget everything you know about the voting process and create an all-new one,” said Alice Jarboe, Sacramento County’s interim registrar of voters.

North Dakota: As total voting sites drop, do elections suffer? | Bismarck Tribune

In June, more than 4,700 Grand Forks residents filtered through the Alerus Center — and only the Alerus Center — to vote on the future of a downtown’s Arbor Park. It was another sign of the polling consolidation popping up across the state, as voting locations continue a yearslong drop. The move was a first for the city, which had never before held its own single-site election. But in the aftermath of the vote, the debate over the park seemed settled, and Grand Forks leaders were glad to skirt the costs and logistical headache they say can come with polling sites all around town. Then came the lawsuit. A group of about two dozen voters sought to have the election voided, their case stated, in part because using a single-site system was an overreach of city authority. That claim was the result of months of concerns that the new system and its lower number of voting locations would reduce turnout and potentially change the election’s results.

Nevada: Voting centers bringing technology upgrade to Clark County elections | Las Vegas Review-Journal

On election days in 2018, Las Vegas Valley voters will have to travel no more than 2 miles to cast a ballot. That’s because Clark County will implement voting centers by the primary election in June 2018. The technology allows voters to cast a valid ballot at any polling location inside Clark County, not just their local precincts. “It’s (like) early voting on Election Day,” County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said during a presentation on Monday night. “You don’t have to race across town at 5 o’clock to get to the voting place designated for you. You can stop anywhere.” County Commissioners voted in April to spend about $1.57 million to implement the new method of voting on Election Day. Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas and Boulder City used voting centers in their 2017 municipal elections.

Pennsylvania: Senators, experts gather for “overview hearing” on election reform | PennLive

Imagine it’s the first Tuesday of November. Rather than voting at your local precinct in your municipality, you would drive to the county “polling center” to cast your ballot. In a Senate hearing on Tuesday, legislators and elections experts discussed this “polling center” concept and other possibilities to amend Pennsylvania’s current election practices, many of which have been in place since 1937.

California: Orange County wants to overhaul the way we vote, but some say changes should wait | Orange County Register

A massive overhaul of how Orange County voters cast ballots will be considered Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, but some Republican leaders concerned about potential voter fraud want any changes postponed. Elections officials here and in other states that have implemented similar changes counter that by saying the upgrades make voting systems more secure. “There’s no better time to make these changes than now,” said Neal Kelley, county Registrar of Voters, who says the new approach would save the county between $10 million and $20 million. The “vote center” system he’s proposing would do away with the approximately 1,000 precinct polling places typically set up in the county for each election. Instead, the county would create new vote centers and distribute mail-in ballots to every registered voter.

California: Measure phasing out neighborhood polling places goes to Jerry Brown | The Sacramento Bee

California is on the verge of sweeping changes to its election system intended to boost plummeting voter turnout. The state Senate on Monday sent a measure to Gov. Jerry Brown that would begin shifting California away from its network of neighborhood polling places to primarily mail ballots. Based on a model used in Colorado, Senate Bill 450 would authorize counties beginning in 2018 to conduct elections where every voter is mailed a ballot and drop-off locations are available up to four weeks ahead of time in lieu of polling places. Temporary “vote centers” would also be open starting 10 days before the election to register voters and accept ballots.

California: Voting will never be quite the same in California if lawmakers pass reforms | Los Angeles Times

Sweeping legislation at the state Capitol would make the future of California elections dependent on a major expansion of absentee ballots, one that would give local officials the power to close thousands of neighborhood polling places. In their place, counties would open temporary elections offices known as “vote centers” sprinkled throughout communities, locations offering a wide variety of elections services including early voting and same-day voter registration as well as a limited number of in-person voting booths. “We’re trying to make it easier for people to participate, given the complexities of modern life,” said state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), the author of Senate Bill 450. The proposal was passed by the Assembly on Tuesday on a party-line vote. It now heads to the state Senate and faces an Aug. 31 deadline to make it to Gov. Jerry Brown for his ultimate signature or veto.

Philippines: Comelec scraps mall voting | The Manila Times

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), via a 4-3 vote, has scrapped the holding of elections in malls because of legal problems that may later put the poll body in a bind. “It will no longer push through,” Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said on Wednesday. “It’s a pity, it’s disturbing. I apologize to our voters.” The commission arrived at the decision after a marathon en banc session on Tuesday. It reversed its earlier 6-1 ruling in favor of mall voting.
The legal issues on mall voting were raised by former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal in a letter to Bautista. Larrazabal pointed out that the Comelec failed to comply with the three basic requirements set by the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) before some clustered precincts can be legally transferred to shopping malls.

Arizona: Voting Problems Are More Complicated Than They Look | TPM

Reports of Arizona voters waiting for as long as fives hours to cast their ballots is bringing intense scrutiny on local elections officials as well as renewed criticism of the 2013 Supreme Court decision that allowed them to make major changes to polling plans without the approval of the federal government. Most of the coverage since Tuesday’s voting problems has focused on two things: First, Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populated region, reduced polling places from 200 to 60 in an effort to save money; and second, that’s the kind of change in the voting regimen that federal officials would have blocked until the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder. But the picture is more complicated, voting rights experts and former Justice Department officials tell TPM. One key point that some early reports bashing Maricopa County failed to make was it did not simply reduce the number of polling places. Rather it was a transformation to a vote centers system, which if done correctly, brings some perks voting rights advocates generally favor.

Colorado: Critics worry proposed vote center bill would disenfranchise voters | The Colorado Independent

A proposal to change the availability of voting centers across the state is splitting voting rights groups between those who favor saving money and those who say closing voting centers will disenfranchise voters who need them most. This week’s state Capitol hearing on Senate Bill 16-112 marks the first legislative action on a half-dozen proposals designed to change Colorado’s voting laws in time for this year’s election. Sponsored by Sen. Jack Tate, a Centennial Republican, the bill would change the availability of voting service centers in counties with at least 75,000 voters. Since Colorado went to an all-mail ballot election system in 2013, voters who want to cast their ballots in person no longer do so in their precincts, but at voting service centers maintained by their county. Current law requires one center for each 30,000 voters during the early voting period that starts 15 days before the general election. Each county, regardless of size, must have at least one voting center.

Press Release: Matagorda County Updates Election Technology with Purchase of Hart InterCivic Solution | Hart InterCivic

Matagorda County, Texas has purchased a new voting system from Austin-based Hart InterCivic. With the addition of Matagorda County to its family of customers, Hart now provides state-of-the-art election solutions for 109 Texas counties as well as hundreds of additional jurisdictions across the U.S. “The Hart Voting System is the most secure, accurate and reliable system currently certified by the Texas Secretary of State,” said Phillip Braithwaite, President and CEO of Hart InterCivic.

California: State Looks At Colorado Voter Reform Model | FOX40

A joint committee of the legislature reviewed election reforms in Colorado to try to reverse the state’s trend of declining voter participation. A key strategy used in Colorado was to mail ballots to every registered voter whether or not they request it. “You put a ballot in the mailbox of every registered voter and surprise, surprise most of them mail it back,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

South Dakota: Voters Face Polling Confusion | KDLT

Polling centers have been replaced by precincts for this Primary Election. And that’s caused a lot of confusion throughout the day. Long lines have turned into mix-ups. In April’s city election, voters could go anywhere; Tuesday however, that wasn’t the case. Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz said, “We had our usual flurry of calls at 7 o’clock this morning from people wondering where they were supposed to go.”

Indiana: Verdict still out on utility of vote centers | The Journal Gazette

Counties that have leapt into the world of vote centers invariably talk about how convenient it is for the voter. But so far, that convenience isn’t translating into more people casting ballots. The statewide voter turnout for the recent primary election was 18 percent. By comparison, the 17 counties using vote centers came in with turnout around 15.4 percent. The last time there was no statewide race leading the primary ticket was 2002. Back then statewide turnout was 22 percent; the counties that would later move to vote centers had turnout of 23 percent. “We don’t have data to show that it increases turnout,” Secretary of State Connie Lawson said. “But we don’t see a drop either.”

South Dakota: Indian voting centers not approved by state elections board | The Argus Leader

The South Dakota Board of Elections on Wednesday declined to endorse a proposal from an advocacy group that called for using federal funds to establish satellite voting centers in three predominantly Native American towns. Four Directions Inc. of Mission requested that the board endorse its plan to use money from the Help America Vote Act, which Congress passed after the contentious 2000 presidential election to modernize voting procedures and administration. The state has about $9 million remaining in HAVA funds, and for less than $50,000 an election, HAVA funds could be used to establish satellite voting centers in Wanblee, Eagle Butte and Fort Thompson. All three towns have larger populations than their respective county seats. Fort Thompson, for example, has a population of 1,375 people, while the county seat of Buffalo County, Gann Valley, has a population of 14. County seats, however, are the only places where people can cast in-person absentee ballots.

Voting Blogs: Are Election Day Precincts an Anachronism? | State of Elections

William & Mary’s recent Election Law Symposium played host to several of the leading luminaries in election administration, focusing upon issues of election delays, including but not limited to long lines.  On more than one occasion, participants discussed Election Day vote centers—large voting “big boxes” of sorts at which voters from multiple different precincts may vote—as a potential instrument to combat Election Day delays (see here for a brief discussion of voting at non-precinct polling places).  The subject was particularly appropriate for the panel assembled at W&M, as it included Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a lightning rod for controversy in election administration, whose state has had valuable experience with Election Day vote centers. A recent study by political scientists Robert Stein of Rice University and Greg Vonnahme of the University of Alabama has shown that use of such vote centers can increase voter turnout. Some at the conference expressed concerns about vote centers.   Panelists referred to the logistical difficulties of operating voting centers—notably that the centers must have the capacity to provide several different ballots for different precincts, including situations in which different ballots require different paper sizes (a problem rendered moot where sophisticated voting machines are used, as they can easily be programmed to contain multiple electronic ballots).

Indiana: Recount prompts vote center questions – County won’t use vote centers in this year because of privacy concerns | Palladium-Item

Vote centers might go statewide in this election year after a multi-year pilot test by Wayne and two other counties and a law change last year that allows it. Fayette County, though, is abandoning vote centers in 2012, after its first experience during the 2011 city election, an election that went to a recount. Fayette County Clerk Melinda Sudhoff said the Fayette County Election Board agreed late last week not to use vote centers for this year’s presidential elections. The idea will be revisited in 2014, she said. Vote centers eliminate precinct voting and allow voters to vote at any of several locations before or on Election Day. The system reduces the number of polling places, equipment and workers, which cuts costs. Vote centers also make voting more convenient for some voters, but when they vote early at the centers, voters are actually casting absentee ballots, according to the law.

Indiana: Monroe County To Vote On Buying Election Equipment Monday | Indiana Public Media

The Monroe County commissioners have postponed a vote on purchasing 2012 voting equipment until Monday because of an Election Board vote that rejected a proposal for vote centers. Commissioner Iris Kiesling says they needed more time to decide what equipment would give them the best deal for their money.

“Now that we have to provide service to eighty-two precincts, although some of those might be co-located, we have to look at our numbers and see what the best proposal is that we have before us,” she says.

Kiesling quoted a Financial Policy Institute report released last year that said vote center elections would cost Monroe County nearly $87,000. Precinct elections would cost $161,000. That does not include the 15 new precincts that will be added this year. County Clerk Linda Robbins, who voted in favor of the vote centers, says the higher cost is why finding the voting equipment could be difficult.

Indiana: How Many Ballot Scanners Should We Buy for 2012 |

How many voting machines does Monroe County really need? If the county decided to scan paper ballots at a central location, such as at the Justice Building, after 2012 elections, it wouldn’t matter whether the county commissioners purchase enough machines for 81 precincts or 20-some vote centers.

The county could consider buying just one high-speed digital ballot scanner, similar to the one it used in the May 2011 primary elections. Even if all 94,164 registered voters in the county show up to vote, results would be delayed only by a few hours over having a scanner at each polling place, and the county would save money.

New Mexico: Doña Ana County considers using at-large voting centers | Las Cruces Sun-News

Amid rushing the kids to school, zipping through a busy day at work, squeezing in a few other chores and picking the kids up from soccer, gymnastics or guitar lessons, finding time to cast your election-day ballot as important as it may be sometimes falls by the wayside.

That’s especially the case if your memory is a bit fuzzy about where to vote. Was it Alameda Elementary School? Or that community center a few streets away? Or just possibly that neighborhood church used two years ago?
County officials said they’re hoping a proposal up for consideration Tuesday will streamline the process of election-day voting and make it more accessible to voters.

The proposal would change the way the county hosts election-day voting moving it from precinct-based polling places to at-large voting centers.
Instead of voting at a designated precinct or casting a provisional ballot if you show up at the wrong precinct you’d visit to any one of 39 voting centers throughout Doña Ana County, said County Clerk Lynn Ellins, a Democrat.

Indiana: Vote centers up for debate in Monroe County | Indiana Daily Student

Voting rights and procedures were debated again, as they were last fall, at a 4 p.m. Tuesday work meeting of the Monroe County Election Board. The board, staffed by Judith Smith-Ille, Jan Ellis and Monroe County Clerk Linda Robbins, discussed a motion to stop using voter precincts and instead open vote centers for the 2012 elections.

Smith-Ille, the lone Republican on the board, questioned the timing of the proposal. “I don’t want you to think I’m against vote centers. I’m not. I just don’t think 2012 is the year to do them,” Smith-Ille said. There are currently 90 voting precincts in Monroe County, Robbins said. There would be far fewer vote centers, if they were implemented, which would make the voting and vote counting processes easier, she said.

Arizona: Maricopa County shuns voting centers | Arizona Republic

Next week, a new law will allow counties to set up centralized voting centers to replace or supplement neighborhood polling places. But Maricopa County officials say that kind of system wouldn’t work in the state’s largest county.

Voting centers would allow county residents to walk into any location and get a ballot specific to where they live. State elections officials say the system could help rural counties save money by closing underused precincts.

That’s not necessarily the case in Maricopa County.

North Dakota: Jury still out in voting centers issue | Bismarck Tribune

“It was a valuable experiment. We learned what worked well and what things didn’t,” said Burleigh County Auditor Kevin Glatt about using voting centers for this week’s special election on Bismarck’s smoking ban. One center was placed at the Bismarck Civic Center and one at the VFW Sports Arena. There are now 35 voting precincts and…

New Mexico: A New Routine for Some New Mexico Voters | Albuquerque Journal

Voters may have to buck their routines in the 2012 election after Gov. Susana Martinez on Thursday signed election-related measures that could significantly alter Election Day procedures in some counties. Counties will now have the option of consolidating staff — and precincts — into large “voting centers.” The centers will operate much like early voting…