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.
Ellis agreed it is much easier to find a few accessible locations for vote centers than to find 90 buildings in compliance with accessibility regulations. She said she and Robbins have done a great deal of research that supports switching to vote centers.
“Wherever there needs to be changes made, we’ve noted those. We know how to make them completely accessible,” Ellis said. “Vote centers are the way of progress.”
Ellis said vote centers are necessary for the 2012 presidential elections because processing the large volume of votes will be more efficient.
Smith-Ille proposed the continued study of implementing vote centers in February, she said. Since then she has said she wouldn’t vote to switch to the centers if they weren’t in compliance with accessibility requirements for the disabled and elderly.
Richard Linnemeier, a Bloomington resident, said he did not understand Smith-Ille’s concerns.
“I don’t understand why the vote centers will be inherently less accessible than the precincts,” Linnemeier said. “It seems like you’re trying to suppress the Democratic vote in Monroe County. It’s better for Republicans if people don’t vote.”