September 10, 2013

Miami Co. reveals vote center plan

Board could vote to adopt new vote system next month.

By Carson Gerber For the Pharos-Tribune

---- — PERU – Miami County residents were introduced to a new style of voting Wednesday after the election board revealed its draft vote center plan that could allow residents to cast a ballot at any voting location in the county.

The election board drafted the plan after six months of discussion with the Miami County vote center task force made up of local officials and election experts.

Vote centers do away with precinct polling places, and allow residents to vote at any polling place in the county over an extended period of time.

In the current draft of the Miami County vote center plan, the existing 31 voting precincts in the county would be reduced to seven voting locations.

Residents could also cast ballots at three vote center locations on the two Saturdays before Election Day.

All the vote centers and early vote centers would be connected through electronic poll books connected by a secure internet line. At least one electronic poll book terminal will be available at each location, and voters will have access to every ballot style for each precinct in the county at every location.

Paul Wilson, deputy of voter registration, said transitioning to vote-center style voting will save the county around $10,000 during every county-wide election by reducing the number of voting locations and poll workers.

He said the upfront cost to purchase new electronic poll books and fully implement vote centers would cost around $32,000.

“Each county who has vote centers does it a little bit differently, but we’re going to tailor make our vote centers to fit our county,” Wilson said.

The Miami County Election Board will meet again at 10 a.m. Oct. 4 in the courthouse to discuss the public’s input at Wednesday’s meeting. The board may also vote to adopt the draft vote center plan and move forward with the plan for elections in 2014.

County council members and commissioners must also vote to approve vote centers before the plan is reviewed and finally approved by the state.

The state has given counties the option of implementing vote centers since 2011, after conducting a three-year feasibility study in Wayne, Tippecanoe and Cass counties.

Proposed locations for vote centers: 1. Macy Christian Church Fellowship Hall 2. Denver Baptist Church 3. Blair Ridge Health Center 4. Parkview United Methodist Church 5. EastPointe Bible Church 6. Bunker Hill Community Center 7. Converse Town Hall Locations would be open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Election Day. Alternate locations under consideration include the Miami County courthouse, Area 5-Senior Center and Ivy Tech Peru campus. Proposed early voting locations: 1. Denver Baptist Church 2. Blair Ridge Health Center 3. Bunker Hill Community Center Locations would be open on two Saturday's before Election Day. Early absentee-in-person voting would still be available 28 days prior to each Election Day during regular courthouse hours and the two Saturday's prior to Election Day.