Floyd County Seeks Public Opinion On Voting Centers Wednesday

by Devin Katayama on February 13, 2012

Floyd County, Indiana residents will have the chance to weigh in this week on whether the county should switch from voting precincts to voting centers.

Currently, voting is available in each of the 60 county precincts. The voting center plan would put polling places in fewer locations, but would allow voters to visit any of them to cast their ballot. Both Floyd and Clark counties are considering the change and a few Indiana counties have already made the switch with success, said Floyd County Clerk Linda Moeller.

“The poll workers are liking it better and voter turn out in those counties has already gone up and there is some cost savings also to the counties that are using those centers,” she said.

But Fayette County, Indiana, which tried its hand at the centers last year, had some setbacks, said Fayette County Clerk Melinda Sudhoff.

While voters appreciated being able to vote on days other than Election Day, the election staff wasn’t well informed and human error forced a recount.

This is partly because direction at the state level didn’t provide enough instruction. “It’s very vague for what needs to be done,” said Sudhoff.

Fayette County voters did appreciate the voting centers for the most part, she said, and two-thirds of voters cast ballots before Election Day.

That’s why Floyd County is starting its process now, said Moeller. Unless the county holds a special election, Floyd wouldn’t likely use voting centers until 2014, she said.

“If we change to a vote center, if that’s the way we go, it takes time to develop a plan, get it approved by the county component that has to approve it, and also submit it to the state,” said Moeller.

If approved, the county would likely spend at least $500,000 on new machines, which is what the county currently spends on machines under the precinct plan, she said.

Clark County is also considering the vote center plan, said Clark County Clerk Barbara Bratcher-Haas.

Clark has a much larger geographical area, so vote centers may be more appealing to voters, she said. The decision may also be influenced partly on the need to update county’s current equipment, which will soon becoming outdated, she said.

A public forum on the voting center plan for Floyd County will be held Wednesday afternoon at the County Circuit Court.

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