I’m previously on record as saying we should have between 22-25 vote centers. Though I still would argue that is a preferred number, I am willing to compromise in order to bring vote centers to Howard County. Based on the number of vote center locations being used in surrounding counties, it seems entirely reasonable we should be able to compromise on around 18 vote centers in Howard County. It also seems reasonable to locate the centers in the most highly populated and accessible areas of our community. Vote centers should be predominantly located in walkable, neighborhood-focused areas and not separated from population centers by state roads. Additionally, they should be located on, or very near, existing public transportation lines.
In short, the number of vote centers, and where they are located, should be determined by asking “what is better for the voter?” and not “what is better for the Republican Party?”
The Howard County Democratic Party is committed to advancing the vote center concept. That is why I was optimistic when Clerk Wilson decided to form a vote center committee last summer. Unfortunately my optimism was short-lived as she has not called a single meeting of that committee, nor corresponded with the members of the committee. This is yet another example of Clerk Wilson’s mismanagement and failure to follow through on her supposed commitment to vote centers.
Even though we cannot have vote centers this year, there is still so much we can accomplish to make voting easier and more accessible in 2014. We can, and should, set up multiple satellite voting centers in order to make early voting easier. The normal early voting hours of 8 a.m.-4 p.m. are too restrictive for folks who work, go to school, or who are active in their children’s extracurricular activities. Therefore, the satellite voting locations should be open during the evening hours as well. We should also join other communities in the state by allowing more Saturday and Sunday voting options.
I join with the Kokomo Tribune’s editorial board in calling for both parties to compromise. The Howard County Democratic Party is at the negotiating table; we are just waiting for the Republican Party to put politics aside and join us.
David Tharp is chairman of the Howard County Democratic Party. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.