Elkhart County voters have more choices

They’ll be cutting costs while they’re casting ballots tomorrow in Elkhart County.

Tuesday’s Primary Election will include a switch to “vote centers.” “We’re excited, we hope it’s a great process for the voters, we hope that they find vote centers to be convenient for them,” said Elkhart County Clerk Wendy Hudson.

Elkhart County is only the 18th county in the State of Indiana to adopt the new system of voting, and the first in the immediate area to do so.

The switch means that Tuesday’s Primary Election will give voters more choice than ever. Before they ever start picking candidates, they’ll have to pick a polling place.

“Instead of being tied to a precinct polling location based on where you're registered to vote, you can vote at any vote center in the county that's convenient to you,” said Hudson.

Elkhart County will have 25 vote centers up and running. Most of them will be housed in churches, 11 of them will be located along bus lines. “The minimum we can have is 13, that would be one for every 10,000 voters, and we have 25, so that’s almost double the minimum,” said Shari Mellin, Elkhart County Democratic Party Chairperson.

But it’s far less than the 84 polling places the precinct system offered, and you’ll no longer cast ballots close to home at the same place as all of your neighbors.

“It’s been about 30 years since I've been helping at a polling place in Benton Township,” said Rebecca Van Diepenbos. “I do miss my old polling place. I get to see everybody in that township, that’s a good thing. I will miss that, but the ease of people being able to vote throughout the county is worthwhile. The saving money, I’m all about that.”

Dramatically cutting the number of available polling places means hiring fewer Election Day workers.

Elkhart County figures to save $50,000 in salaries alone thanks to the switch. “We’re also eliminating our paper ballot waste which is a four year cycle comes to $120,000” said Hudson.

Hudson says it’ll take 225 workers to staff 25 vote centers. That’s 60 percent fewer employees than it took to run the precinct system. Hudson says those jobs were getting harder and harder to fill.

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