Polling locations might be reduced

Facebook PhotoThese Poll Pads by KNOWiNK are set to be used in the May 2018 primary election. The device is tablet-based and is designed for ease of use and convenience, according to the manufacturer.

GREENSBURG – The county election board is awaiting approval from the Board of Commissioners to combine polling locations and utilize electronic polling books in an effort, they say, to save money and make the process more convenient for voters.

Decatur County Clerk Adina Roberts said a reduction in the number of polling locations in Greensburg from nine to three – each of which is located within five miles of one another – would aid poll workers in case of technological or other issues on election day and would make the process better for voters who would know almost immediately whether or not they were at the correct polling location.

The savings for the county would be about $14,000, Roberts and Deputy Clerk Faith Koors said at Monday’s meeting of the Decatur County Board of Commissioners.

“It’s going to be well worth doing this,” Roberts said.

The change is set to take place for the May 2018 primary election.

Roberts said the number of polling precincts will not be reduced as a result of the change, and the number of voting boards will remain the same as well. Votes will still be divided among precincts, in spite of voters from various precincts casting their ballots at the same location.

Preliminary sites for voting would be the Decatur County Community Schools administration building (2020 N. Montgomery Rd.), Community Church of Greensburg (1427 W. Vandalia Rd.), and Knights of St. John (312 S. Wilder).

Voters who previously cast their ballots at the Baymont Inn, First Christian Church or North Decatur High School would vote at the DCCS administration building, while voters who went to the polls at Greensburg Community High School and Heritage House would do the same at the Knights of St. John.

Voters who previously made their election selections at Bethel Apostolic Church, The Apostolic Truth Tabernacle or Morning Breeze Retirement Community would vote at the Community Church of Greensburg.

Commissioner Mark Koors said Monday he was in favor of the change but expressed a worry that confusion – and possibly voter frustration – could result.

“My fear is somebody standing in line to vote, and they get to the desk and they say, ‘Well, you’re not at the right place; I’m sorry,’ and that’s gonna upset them and they’re gonna go home,” the commissioner said.

Roberts said situations such as that occur anyway, and that the reduction in the number of poll locations is unlikely to result in longer lines. She said the election board used voter turnout data to determine the most convenient locations for voters.

“We don’t foresee long lines because we’re basing our totals on actual turnout for these polling locations,” Roberts noted.

The system is already in place at two locations in the county, Roberts said, and that process has worked out well – for voters as well as poll workers, the county clerk mentioned.

Voters in St. Paul and Adams Townships, for example, all vote at the St. Paul Civic Center. A similar situation takes place at the Westport Community Building where residents of Westport and the southern portion of Sandcreek Township cast their ballots.

An increase in the number of poll workers will help ensure the process goes more smoothly than before.

“Nothing’s going to be slowed down by this process whatsoever,” said Roberts.

The combined locations will also each feature two electronic voting boards.

Further speeding up matters will be the implementation of new electronic poll books which will be partially funded by a grant received from the state after the county purchased its current electronic voting boards.

The poll books are tablet-based and are designed for convenience and ease of use, according to the manufacturer, KNOWiNK, Inc.

“It creates as much of a stress free experience as you can get on Election Day,” Scott Leiendecker, the device’s creator at KNOWiNK, says in a YouTube video describing the device.

The use of the poll pad was certified by the state in 2014. Since then, Roberts said 47 of 92 Indiana counties have made the switch.

The electronic pads have the added functionality of being able to scan a driver’s license without any additional equipment. Roberts said such a capability will help each voter know whether or not he or she is in the correct location. The device can even print a map to the correct polling place for each voter.

Roberts said the election board is also planning to increase the number of locations for absentee voting outside the county. Future meetings would determine those locations.

The new polling pads are expected to be received later this year or early next. Roberts is optimistic but added that if the process doesn’t work out well, the board could return to the current set-up of having nine separate polling locations.

The commissioners will have the final say on the matter and are expected to rule on the proposed changes soon. Commissioner Koors said the concept is “a great idea” and added his hope that the public would be notified of the potential changes soon.

Commissioner Jerome Buening said the topic would be discussed further at upcoming commissioners meetings. The next is set for 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 6, in the Decatur County Courthouse meeting room.

The Decatur County Clerk’s Office can be reached by phone at 812-663-8223.

Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056; brent.brown@greensburgdailynews.com

Indiana lawmakers look into expanding voter access

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - A panel of Indiana lawmakers is recommending the Legislature consider offering Election Day voter registration and expanding mail voting options, saying the state needs to look for ways to increase voter turnout while preserving ballot security.

Republican Sen. Greg Walker, who chairs the Interim Study Committee, said he’s working on legislation for next year that would allow Indiana residents to use absentee ballots without having to provide an excuse. Residents are currently required to pick one of 11 specific reasons in order to vote absentee, though the state doesn’t verify that the reasons are valid.

State law also requires Indiana residents to register to vote no later than 29 days before the election. Studies have found that Election Day voter registration has increased voter turnout, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Same-day voter registration is a major priority for Common Cause Indiana, said Julia Vaughn, policy director for the political watchdog organization.