Vote Centers have been discussed at recent County Commissioner and County Council meetings with various questions raised.

What is a Vote Center? A Vote Center is a polling place where any eligible voter in the county may go to vote. The purpose of Vote Centers is to increase voter convenience and accessibility. This can encourage increased voter turnout which has been low in Montgomery County.

Vote Centers are designed to make it easier to vote by providing voters opportunity to vote at any of the five locations. Often one of the Vote Centers may be closer to employment or daily travel than location of former precinct.

Vote Centers provide flexibility and efficiency in election operations. Currently, staffing at the 27 precincts is fixed. With Vote Centers, staffing and machines can be changed in the middle of the day, moving some staff and machines to centers with highest traffic. Vote Centers are connected through secure internet connections; and as ballots are cast, an electronic poll book is instantaneously updated.

Vote Centers can result in significant savings for Montgomery County. Vote Centers will require fewer local election officials, reduce locations to be set up, and reduce the number of voting machines needed. The 27 precincts require 135 poll workers. With Vote Centers, the county will have five polling locations and an estimate of 50 workers.

The good news is that the new voting machines can be purchased with no increase in the budget. Part of the cost of the new voting machines will be paid for by funds available now. Keeping the current same budget, the payment will be completed in just a few years using savings provided by the shift to Vote Centers. Then the costs will be significantly less than present system, and the budget can be decreased!

Voters in counties which have switched to Vote Centers have been very positive about the change. Exit interviews with voters in Cass County (Logansport) and Tippecanoe County reported overwhelming enthusiastic endorsement of the Vote Center experience. More than 90% of the voters in Tippecanoe County preferred Vote Centers to former precinct voting. Confusion and frustration of going to vote in the wrong precinct had been eliminated, and elections were run more efficiently.

Many hours have been invested by County Election personnel to determine most convenient and appropriate locations for the Vote Centers. The locations must be large enough for the equipment, have adequate parking, access to the internet, and be handicapped accessible.

In addition, early voting the weekend before the Election is being planned in key locations throughout the county to make it more convenient for voters who would like to vote early.

The League of Women Voters of Montgomery County supports the recommendation by the County Clerk and Deputy Registrar to move to Vote Centers for elections in 2014 and beyond. Vote Centers will make voting more convenient for the voter, will allow election administration to be more efficient, and will save Montgomery County money!