By Rod Rose
For the Times Sentinel
Convenience, cost-cutting and quicker counting are demonstrated advantages of “vote centers,” a system that will allow Hoosier voters to cast ballots outside their precincts in 2014 and future elections.
Vote centers are optional; a county’s board of commissioners, county council and election board must all approve the system.
Clerks from several central Indiana counties heard Secretary of State Connie Lawson at a regional vote center workshop Tuesday, April 23, at the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds.
“It was very, very informative,” Boone County Clerk Penny Bogan said. “I think a majority of counties are going to vote centers. Eventually, they will save a tremendous amount.”
Establishing vote centers will require up-front expenses, Lawson said. Initial costs could include buying computer equipment for the polls and software to operate an electronic poll book, as well as mailings to voters explaining how vote centers work, she said.
Elections cost an average of $100,000, Lawson said. Boone County spent about $75,000 total for the primary and general elections in 2012, Bogan said. Satellite voting was offered on two weekends in Zionsville, rather than one, which increased the cost somewhat, she said.
Those expenses included payment for poll workers, their lunches, polling site rental, janitorial services, voting machine maintenance, and transporting machines to precincts.
Some county clerks expect to save 50 percent on elections, Lawson said, after the set-up costs.
“Counties are experiencing cost savings because they have fewer locations; they need a lot less poll workers,” she said.
See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.