A decade ago, Larimer County, Colo. Clerk Scott Doyle was looking for a way to deal with many of the changes mandated by the Help America Vote Act. Working with the county’s elections department and practices already in place for early voting, Doyle and company created the concept of vote centers to use in all elections. Now, although Doyle has recently retired, his idea of consolidating voting precincts into a small number of come-one, come-all polling places is spreading to more and more counties across the country. “The success of vote centers is largely due to their attractiveness to voters who might not otherwise vote,” said Robert Stein, political science professor at Rice University who has studied vote centers. “They afford inexperienced votes many of the benefits in-person early voting offers, in those states that allow voters to ballot before Election Day. “ Counties making the move to vote centers cite a variety of reasons for making the switch, but the biggest factor of all seems to be cost savings.
“Election Day voting is becoming very costly with fewer voters balloting on Election Day at a large number of very costly Election Day voting places,” Stein said. “States will seek ways to reduce the cost of Election Day voting places and one way is to consolidate Election Day voting places to a smaller number of larger voting places, allowing voters to vote at any location.”
Indiana was one of the first states to embrace the idea with five counties participating in a pilot program from 2007-2010. Since the completion of the pilot program — which was deemed a success — the Indiana General Assembly approved legislation in 2011 allowing all counties in the state to switch to vote centers if they wish.
In the months since the 2012 election season has come to an end, several counties throughout the Hoosier State have taken the steps necessary to make the switch to vote centers.
“We currently have seven vote center counties in Indiana and one more moving to the vote center option in 2014,” explained Valarie Kroger, communications director for Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson. “There are several more that are currently looking at the option.”
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.