Council approves Marion County’s switch to vote centers starting next year

Marion County voters will be able to cast their vote at any polling place in the county starting next year as Indianapolis becomes what is known as a “vote center” county.

The Indianapolis City-County County on Monday night unanimously approved designating Marion County as a vote center county, which will result in transforming the 300 traditional neighborhood-based polling locations across the county into places where any registered Marion County voter can cast a ballot.

Marion County will join 37 other Indiana counties that already vote center counties.

“This is really exciting,” said Council Vice President Zach Adamson. “This is going to be transformative to the electoral process in Marion County.”

Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge said in late November that the proposal will “revolutionize how we vote in Marion County for the foreseeable future.”

“No longer will a voter have to vote using a provisional ballot because they showed up to the wrong polling place on Election Day,” Eldridge said. “Citizens can vote near home, work, schools, daycare or any other location that is convenient.”

The transition will occur starting with the 2019 primary municipal election in May.

Instead of using traditional paper poll books, the polling locations will switch to electronic poll books, which will be updated in real-time, allowing poll workers to check in voters from any area of the county. The City-County Council on Monday also approved adding $500,000 to the Marion County Clerk’s office budget to assist in purchasing the new e-pollbooks.

Voters who cast early ballots at the clerk’s office were able to use the new method as it was piloted in the recent 2018 election.

“We had a pretty successful pilot program with early voting,” Eldridge said. “More than 65,000 voters cast a ballot in Marion County using the new equipment.

The switch from traditional neighborhood-assigned precincts comes as the result of a bipartisan agreement earlier this year from the Marion County Election Board.

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