Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

February 5, 2014

DAVID THARP: Howard Co. Republicans derail vote center discussion

Republicans owe it to voters to compromise.

Last March, Howard County Clerk Kim Wilson tried to push through a half-formed vote center measure that violated the state guidelines for instituting a vote center plan. When Clerk Wilson was questioned on why she was trying to pass an illegal plan, she said she hadn’t read all of the law and that the county would have to start over.

Vote centers can make voting simpler and more accessible for the voter, and can make the whole process cheaper for the taxpayer. With vote centers, you can choose to go to a polling place that is on the way to work, or near school or while running errands. They can provide flexibility and decrease confusion about where you go to cast your ballot.

Vote centers can address these issues, but only when instituted properly.

The highly partisan plan offered by Clerk Wilson and supported by Howard County Republican Chairman Craig Dunn would actually make it harder to vote. They only want 10 vote center locations in Howard County, and only want four of those to be inside Kokomo city limits. That means 70 percent of the county’s population would only be directly serviced by 40 percent of the vote centers. Chairman Dunn is now refusing to compromise, saying, “We’re going to have 10 as long as I’m chairman.” That doesn’t seem like a very voter-friendly plan, does it?

With Kim Wilson, the Republican clerk, botching the planning process, and Craig Dunn, the Republican chairman, refusing to compromise for the good of the voters and taxpayers of Howard County, it is clear they are not serious about making voting easier. Mismanagement of our election process and a “my way or the highway” partisan political approach to voting have no place in our local government.

The Republicans refuse to allow more than 10 locations for voters to cast their ballots, but this is far from enough. Take a look at the plans submitted by surrounding counties. Cass County’s plan proposes to have one vote center for every 5,511 residents, Miami County’s has one for every 5,212, and Wabash County’s plan has one for every 3,595. Transferring those plans to Howard County’s population of 82,849 would result in 15, 15.89, and 23 vote centers, respectively.

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