Clark County, Indiana lawmakers must decide how the county will comply with the American with Disabilities Act for fall and spring elections. Changing the way the county votes could increase voter access and save the county money.
The county’s ADA compliant voting machines came under scrutiny last spring after all the devices failed to record votes. Federal law says the county must provide one ADA machine at each polling location; if it does not an election could be recalled, which is what then-Clarksville clerk-treasurer candidate Gary Hall tried to have happen, said Robert Bottorff, Clark County election board attorney. The county must now decide how it will comply with ADA for the fall and spring elections.
One option is to switch from precinct polling places to voting centers, said Bottorff. The county would then have to purchase fewer machines, he said, and voters could then vote at any of the ten proposed voting centers, instead of being subjected to one of the 54 county precincts.
“The whole concept behind vote centers is when you have people that are voting like that it gives them an opportunity to vote at a multitude of different locations, whereas right now I can only vote at only one precinct location,” said Bottorff.
The commissioners will consider a contract with RBM Consulting, LLC to purchase 20 new ADA machines and the additional services required for $150,000 to comply for this fall’s municipal election. But next spring they will have to decide whether they want to purchase more machines, or change the way the county votes, said Bottorff.
“We need one machine per polling location to be compliant with the law. The way it is now we have 54 total polling locations. I guess if we don’t go to a vote center method it’s going to cost us a lot more in up front costs.”
It’s still early in the process but Botorff is prepared to write the necessary ordinances and to schedule public comment on the voting centers, he said.
Although funding for elections is mandated, the county still struggles with a growing $1.2 million deficit.