Town express concerns over potential lack of voting centers

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 6:07 PM EDT
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WALKERTON, Ind. (WNDU) - The Town of Walkerton is already somewhat of a food desert after losing its grocery store.

Now some fear it will become a democracy desert should the town lose its long time polling place.

A proposal on where St. Joseph County polling places will be located for the November election would leave four townships without any voting centers, along with the towns of Walkerton and North Liberty.

“We realize that Walkerton isn’t as big as South Bend but we also realize that the people down here have a vote just like they do up there,” Walkerton Town Board Vice President Gene Reese told 16 news now.

St. Joseph County is switching from a system that had more than 200 precinct polling places to one with just 40 vote centers.

Residents of Walkerton would likely have to travel to Lakeville or North Liberty to vote—at worst—a location estimated to be some ten miles away.

“The mind set is they’re not willing to make it easy you know, I’m not going to vote,” added Walkerton Economic Development Director Phil Buckmaster. “And we’ve got a good population here that wants to be involved in the politics.”

The vote center situation in southwest St. Joseph County has also drawn criticism from two candidates running for office in districts that include the territory in question.

Derek Dieter, a Republican running for St. Joseph County Commissioner identified the four townships without polling places as Greene, Lincoln, Madison, and Union.

“I believe that to have some place to go and vote within your own zip code on Election Day should be a given,” added Republican State Representative candidate Jake Teshka.

The situation is expected to be discussed at a St. Joseph County Election Board meeting set for Tuesday morning.

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