INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers would get more time to vote after work under a bill debated Thursday by a House committee.

No vote, however, was taken. Rep. Tim Wesco, the Osceola Republican who authored House Bill 1221 and also is chairman of the House Elections and Apportionment Committee, decided to hold the bill after hearing testimony, leaving its future in doubt.

Currently, polling places are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Indiana. Under the bill, precinct polling places and voting centers would be open until 8 p.m. It also would allow a county election board to create voting centers – centralized places where anyone in that county can vote – by a majority vote rather than a unanimous vote.

Of Indiana’s 92 counties, 39 have replaced precinct polling places with voting centers.

“Vote centers require much less manpower because you can have fewer centers and you don’t have to have one in every single precinct like the precinct system,” Wesco said.

But the combination of longer voting hours, potentially encouraging more people to vote, and fewer voting places concerned some.

Angela Nussmeyer, co-director of the Indiana Election Division, told the committee she approves of extending polling hours, noting Indiana and Kentucky have the earliest poll-closing hours in the nation. But she said that extending voting hours likely would “bump up” the number of voters, and lead to the need for more rather than fewer places to vote.

Haley Carney and Haley Pritchett are reporters for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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