Indiana is one of several states pioneering vote centers, which are consolidated polling places open to any eligible voter in a locality. Vote centers came into existence in 2003, when Larimer County, Colorado first pioneered the configuration. Today, nine states have laws permitting vote centers, but Indiana was the first to use them on a large scale. In 2006, the Indiana Secretary of State began a pilot program, allowing counties to test vote centers to determine if they would be an effective means of election day administration. Three counties, Cass, Tippecanoe, and Wayne, participated in the program from 2007 to 2010, and their reports prompted the state legislature to pass a bill during its 2011 session to enable all counties to adopt the vote center model as their permanent method for voting.
The law allows counties to transition to vote centers upon the unanimous vote of the county board of elections. No state approval is required; the county just has to file a plan with the Indiana Election Division. Already, two more counties, Vanderburgh and Fayette, submitted plans for making vote centers of their own. As required by the legislation, the plans address every detail of the new configuration, from the vote centers’ geographic locations to the number of staff that will man them on election day. The legislature presumably wanted to ensure that the counties would carefully prepare for the amount of people who could turn up at any vote center.