To quickly summarize, the idea of a vote center is that on Election Day instead of being required to vote in only one particular precinct in the county, you can walk into any voting center and cast a ballot. Voting centers, in conjunction with the elimination of the old precinct voting system, results in a drastic reduction in the cost and amount of labor required to put on an election. The voting centers are also a lot more convenient to the voters, and encourages turnout.
This year, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 209 which makes a number of electoral reform, including expanding voting centers. Governor Daniels vetoed the bill stating:
“While this bill contains provisions that would make the act of voting more convenient, it does not contain sufficient safeguards against fraud and abuse and removes long-standing bipartisan checks and balances in the conduct of elections."Although this veto message doesn't detail exactly what in SB 209 the Governor found objectionable, my guess is that his problem was that SB 209 removed the requirement that satellite voting centers only be set up on a unanimous vote of the election board (as was done by Lake County during the last election) and would allow voting centers to also be established by counties on less than a unanimous vote. As far as "fraud," I'm not sure what the Governor is talking about. Actually bipartisan vote centers are going to have less fraud than a precinct based voting system where polling places sometimes are manned without a bipartisan presence that can combat polling place fraud.
Secretary of State Todd Rokita, a supporter of the reforms in SB 209, was quick to respond to Governor Daniels' veto:
“How ironic it is that the one local government reform that actually passes the legislature ends up getting vetoed. Vote Centers is perhaps the only local government reform that so far has been proven unequivocally to save taxpayers money. I would expect, given the serious fiscal condition of the state, that the concept is important enough to find its way into the budget bill so that all 92 counties be given the opportunity to realize the unquestionable taxpayer benefits and savings.”While Governor Daniels' concerns are legitimate, making vote centers hostage to unanimous vote of election boards is to slow to a crawl this much needed reform and to make it even more of a political football than it already is. County Clerks need the flexibility to be able to establish voting centers to alleviate incredible amount of labor and the expense associated with putting on an election. Anyone who knows Indiana politics, knows that any election reform, no matter how innocent and well-meaning, inevitably ends in a partisan dispute. Requiring a unanimous vote by an election board before a Clerk can establish voting centers is to bring to a halt this much needed reform. (For example, can anyone imagine Marion Conty Republican Chairman Tom John and his counterpart, Democrat Ed Treacy, agreeing on the location of vote centers in Marion County?) Hopefully the General Assembly will override this veto in the special session.
Voting Centers - A Time That Has Come for Marion County/Indianapolis (10/10/2008)
Kickin' Marion County Clerk Beth White (11/18/2008)