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.”
… Lawson said some counties want to make the change but don’t have capable Internet service in some parts or are waiting to buy everything all at once when voting machines are upgraded. And in a few areas, politics gets in the way. Under the law, the three-person election board must vote unanimously. Lawson supports keeping that requirement – “I think both parties need to buy in on this idea. It’s a bipartisan effort.”
Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at IPFW, said some Democrats in the past opposed them simply because Republicans proposed them. “There was immediate skepticism and that has simply hung on in some places,” he said.
Downs said some still worry the change could potentially disenfranchise some voters, noting the distance that must be traveled is likely farther under vote centers for some people.