News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Editorials

March 20, 2013

Editorial: Voting centers worth pursuing

Benefits include convenience for voters, savings for taxpayers

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana is certainly not a poster child for accessibility to the voting process. Its ridiculously early voter-registration deadline and voter ID requirements serve to make voting far more difficult for some segments of the eligible population than it needs to be.

But one thing Indiana is doing right is giving counties the option of creating voting centers, which give citizens more convenient access to polling sites. It also gives county officials the ability to save money in the process.

Connie Lawson, who in her role as Indiana’s secretary of state also serves as the state’s top election official, is doing her part to help county officials understand the opportunity available to them. She was in Vigo County recently for a regional meeting with county clerks and other officeholders.

State law doesn’t mandate voting centers, but if a county chooses to adopt them, there are rules to be followed. Still, as Lawson explained, there are significant benefits if counties are willing to make an initial investment.

“Mostly it is convenience for the voter, because there is no wrong place on election day in that county for a voter to vote,” Lawson told those gathered for the regional meeting. “Usually vote centers are located in high-traffic areas. Some counties have used malls, they have used grocery stores and used popular restaurants.”

In addition to being a great service to citizens, voting centers could save taxpayers money. Last year in Vigo County, the primary and general elections cost more than a half-million dollars. Voting centers, if managed properly, could allow a county to marshall its election resources and operate more efficiently.

The potential bottom-line benefits of providing voting centers is intriguing and well worth further exploration. We’re encouraged that the possibility of voting centers is on the agenda for Friday’s meeting of the Vigo County Election Board. Several county officials have already expressed an interest in pursuing the matter, and firm leadership from officeholders, such as county commissioners, will be key to making it happen.

Making the process easier is a goal worth pursuing. Saving money in the long run by doing so makes the effort a no-brainer.

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