By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
---- — It is unlikely vote centers will be available in Howard County during the 2014 election because sites have yet to be selected.
Earlier this year, the Howard County Election Board was moving forward with the vote center concept and electronic voting, but the process was delayed because the county didn’t follow state guidelines.
The election board Wednesday voted to have the chairmen of the local Republican and Democratic parties name two people to a committee to determine the locations for potential vote centers.
Jim Watkins, chairman of the election board, said it was looking for more input from the public in terms of location. He said the bipartisan committee could recommend locations acceptable to both parties.
Mark Bourff, a board member, said he is not opposed to the concept of vote centers, but wants more people involved in the process.
Watkins said he was more comfortable with the political parties choosing the locations, rather than the election board.
Howard County Clerk Kim Wilson said he doubts vote centers will be used during the 2014 county-wide election because work remains to implement them.
Watkins said once the locations are determined, there will be public meetings to discuss vote centers.
“We have to start the process over,” he said. “We can’t do anything until the locations are selected that people can agree on.”
David Tharp, Democratic Party chairman, and Craig Dunn, Republican Party chairman, both said they would name members to a committee to determine potential sites.
Wilson estimated the county would save $310,132 over a four-year span, which would include three election cycles, by going to vote centers. Cost of electronic poll books and new electronic voting machines has been estimated at $300,000.
The proposal is to open five vote centers for early voting and have 10 centers operating on Election Day.
As proposed, the early voting centers could be located in the four corners of Kokomo and the courthouse.
They would be open for three days prior to an election and voting at the courthouse would be open 28 days before Election Day.
There would be vote centers on Election Day in both Greentown and Russiaville as well.