Sullivan County considering vote centers

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SULLIVAN COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Sullivan County is considering introducing vote centers for the 2020 elections.

The Sullivan County Clerk says in a statement she feels vote centers would give voters easier access to the polls because they would be able to vote at any of the vote centers in the county.

The discussion is still in its early stages and would have to be approved by the Sullivan County Commissioners and Sullivan County Council.

If vote centers are implemented, the county would keep the same polling locations for this year’s elections. Then, they would look at which locations saw the most traffic and make changes necessary for future elections.

You can read Sullivan County Clerk Tonya Bedwell’s full statement below:

Our world today is a mobile 24/7 world.  It is not the same as it was when precinct-based voting was established shortly after the Civil War.  Vote Centers came about due to state and local election leaders wanting to give counties greater discretion in how we run our elections.  We are trying to meet the current needs of voters who are more mobile than before.  Costs to run the elections are increasing each year.  We must be able to adjust the process and try new things to tackle the issues we currently have. 

Current issues that plague our voting process are many of today’s voters commute a distance far away from their precinct to work.  Having the ability to vote anywhere in the county will allow these voters to have easier access to the polls.  Sometimes voters go to the wrong precincts to vote and then have to rush to the proper place to vote before the polls close.   In some cases, voters do not make it to their precinct in time to cast their vote.  Vote centers will decrease this problem as you will be able to vote at any of the vote center locations in your county. 

We implemented the ePollBook this past municipal general election.  That would be the biggest cost going into vote centers and we have already done that process. 

We are just in the preliminary stages of vote centers.  This has to be approved by the commissioners and council.  I feel going to vote centers would be a benefit for Sullivan County for reasons stated above.  Change is not easy for anyone.  I believe once it is implemented most everyone will be glad and see the benefits it brings to the voters.  I have been in discussion with several counties at conferences that are vote centers and they are pleased. 

If this is implemented it will not change anything other than the name for the 2020 elections (vote centers instead of precincts) We will continue with the same polling locations and will be able to see the highest traffic locations and make the changes necessary for the 2022 primary election. 

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