by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
---- — DELPHI — Carroll County voters will notice a change in this May’s primary election as the clerk’s office prepares to make the switch from traditional polling locations to vote centers.
The vote centers will consist of places where eligible Carroll County residents can go to vote that are all linked by secure Internet connections. An electronic pollbook will be instantaneously updated as ballots are cast.
They ultimately eliminate the need for traditional polling practices that restrict residents to voting in a location based on where they live. The switch will end up decreasing the number of necessary polling locations, allowing the county to cut costs.
Carroll County will use the new system for the first time in the 2014 primary election May 6.
The switch was made possible after Cass, Tippecanoe and Wayne counties successfully piloted the vote center program in the state from 2007 to 2010.
Carroll County Clerk Andrea Miller said the process started last year with acquiring approval from the county commissioners and council. Then a study committee was formed from the county’s municipalities representing both the Democratic and Republican parties. The committee determined how many sites were needed and which sites were adequate based on factors like internet connectivity and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Six locations emerged from the process — two for Delphi and one each for Burlington, Camden, Flora and Yeoman.
The electronic voting equipment will allow for early voting in the weeks leading up to the election as well.
“I am very excited that Carroll County has decided to make the switch to vote centers,” Miller said. “It’s taken a lot of planning and hard work from all those involved, but the benefits to the voters of our county will be well worth the effort we have spent implementing the new model.”
Miller added it was becoming increasingly difficult to find accessible polling locations in the county along with the workers to staff them. The new centers will allow the county to open fewer locations, cut costs and provide citizens with a more flexible way to vote, she said.
Carroll County Commissioner Pat Clawson said he supported bringing vote centers to the county because of the increased flexibility they bring and early voting capabilities.
“It gives people more opportunity to vote,” Clawson said.
The clerk’s office has received the equipment and staff is preparing to train on it, Miller said. The required public test of the equipment is scheduled for next month.
The deadline to register to vote is April 7. Carroll County residents can register at the clerk’s office, Bureau of Motor Vehicles and online at indianavoters.com.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him: @PharosMAK
Carroll County voter registration information DEADLINE: April 7 WHO: Carroll County residents with valid state ID WHERE: • Carroll County Clerk's Office, 101 W. Main St., No. 206, Delphi • Bureau of Motor Vehicles, 1291 N. Bradford Drive, Delphi • indianavoters.com