Knox County looks to transition from precincts to voting centers

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KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — After evaluating all options, the Knox County Election Board voted in favor of using KNOWiNK systems.

Knox County Clerk David Shelton says the approval of the new system comes as a relief for future elections.

“It’s going to ease the process on election day. Pre-election, post election for my office, the work is going to be greatly diminished. It’s going to be easier, less room for error. It’ll just speed things along,” Shelton said.

KNOWiNK provides updated results during the election. It also verifies the total votes cast and compares them to voters registered to ensure accuracy. Shelton says it’s another form of checks and balances.

The counting of paper poll books, is something former citizens running for offices have endured.

“I actually ran for a city council seat. Sitting there with my election party and my supporters waiting for the elections results to come in, it did seem like it was taking forever,” Shane Lemler, Chairman of the Knox County Libertarian Party said.

Officials with the board said acquiring E-Poll books could be the beginning of transitioning the county into a vote center system. Shelton says he aims to have 12 vote centers in the county.

Under the change, voters would be able vote at any location in the county.

“The proposed locations of those centers are near every major highway. If you live in Knox, but work out of the county you could stop by a vote center before or after work,” Shelton said.

State law requires counties to have 25,000 voters and one center per 10,000 residents.

Lemler said cutting down from nearly 30 voting precincts to 12 voting centers creates risk of large voter gatherings.

“We are still in a pandemic. We have mutations and other variants. Who knows what 2022 is going to bring?” Lemler said.

Another concern Lemler had was limited accessibility for those with disabilities. Indiana law also requires potential sites for a voting center to be accessible to all.

“Last year with the pandemic, we lost a lot of polling centers. We had a quasi of voting centers we had to combine,” Shelton said.

Vigo County Clerk Brad Newman and Chief Deputy Clerk LeAnna Moore attended the meeting. Vigo County plans to initiate the switch to using KNOWiNK systems at a later date.

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