Report: Indiana counties could save cash with vote centers

A new report says all 92 Indiana counties could save money if they used vote centers on Election Day instead of traditional
precinct locations.

Currently only three counties — Tippecanoe, Cass and Wayne — are allowed to use
vote centers under a state pilot program. Voters there can cast their ballots at any county voting location instead of just
their neighborhood precinct.

A new analysis by the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute says all counties could save
if they went to vote centers. The report shows Marion County could save more than $300,000, for example, while Floyd County
could save more than $25,000.

"This study finds that counties that choose to establish vote centers could
realize significant cost savings both immediately and long-term," said John Ketzenberger, president of the IFPI. "Another
advantage is vote centers give local election officials more flexibility to anticipate voter turnout and deploy staff more
effectively."

Estimated savings vary depending on the size of the county and number of voters. Counties that
could benefit most are those with moderate size, growing populations and many registered voters per precinct.

The
report was sponsored by the secretary of state’s office, and Secretary of State Todd Rokita supports the concept of vote centers.
Rokita has said that any county that wants to use vote centers should be allowed to do so, but legislative proposals to expand
the pilot program have stalled in recent years.

The pilot program is set to expire at the end of this year. The
General Assembly is considering legislation that would extend the programs, which local officials say are popular with many
voters.

Vote centers allow election officials to staff fewer polling places on Election Day. Many voters like the
convenience of being able to cast a ballot at a church near their house, at a downtown building on their lunch break or at
a supermarket before grocery shopping.

But some caution that the concept may not work everywhere. With fewer polling
places, many people have to travel farther to vote, which is a problem for those without transportation. Under the state’s
vote center pilot program, counties are required to have at least one vote center for every 10,000 active voters.
 

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