Senate approves Lawson's bill extending vote centers

Saturday, January 22, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- Senate lawmakers have unanimously approved legislation co-authored by State Sen. Connie Lawson (R-Danville) providing counties the option of establishing consolidated voting centers in all 92 counties throughout the state.

Senate Bill 32 allows county election boards to designate their county as a vote center county, which allows them to consolidate precinct voting locations into a centralized vote centers. These centers would be open to all voters of a community and not just those within specified precinct boundaries.

"Our pilot vote centers have been very successful in Cass, Tippecanoe and Wayne counties with all three of them seeing increases in voter turnout," Lawson said. "By expanding this option to 92 counties, lawmakers are giving local elections boards the ability to make voting more accessible while saving valuable tax dollars in the process"

Vote centers -- tested during the 2008 election in Cass, Tippecanoe and Wayne counties -- showed high rates of success because of their convenience and accessibility. The program expired in 2010 despite last year's Senate efforts to continue and expand the program.

According to the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute, vote centers provide significant cost savings, because they allow election officials to staff fewer polling places and reduce the number of voting machines needed to conduct an election.

Lawson said SB 32 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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