St. Joseph County election boards have decided against vote centers
The St. Joseph County Democrats sent out this release today:
Today, the St. Joseph County Election Board has decided to not pursue the use of the Vote Center concept for St. Joseph County elections.
The County Democratic Party supports this decision. Elections will continue to utilize our current precinct style of voting.
Chairman Jason Critchlow stated; "When reviewing the detailed facts, this would be changing a system that isn't broken and has little cost savings to something the public doesn't want."
The detailed reasoning behind this decision is as follows;
Elections should never be a target for budget cuts when it threatens an individual's ability to vote.
To see any real significant reduction in costs, fewer voting locations would be needed threatening voter access
Currently, elections comprise only about 0.5% of the total county budget.
After ten years of experience, there is still no research or data that shows that vote centers lead to increased turnout.
In this past General Election in Indiana, many of the counties with vote centers had lower turnout than St. Joseph County: Three Vote Center Counties had the lowest turnout in the entire state
The top ten highest turnout counties all used precinct style vote, not vote centers
Determining the location of polling locations is still much of a guessing game in terms of best possible placement
There is a great risk involved that, no matter how good of a plan, decreasing from over 150 voting locations to less than 40 will result in some voters not being able to vote.
Long lines are common with the vote center concept. In the November election, Elkhart county vote centers had 60-90 minute long waits to vote in a low turnout year.
This issue would be magnified in a high turnout year.
Multiple public forums were held with the overwhelming consensus being that the public is not in favor of the vote center concept in our county.