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October 9, 2013

Miami Co. approves vote centers

State approval pending final votes from council, commissioners.

PERU — Miami County is on course to adopt a new style of voting after the county election board last week approved the use of vote centers that would first be used in the 2014 election.

Vote centers do away with precinct polling places and allow residents to cast a ballot at any polling place in the county over an extended period of time.

The current vote center plan reduces the existing 31 voting precincts in the county to seven voting locations.

The election board drafted its vote center plan after six months of discussion with the Miami County vote center task force made up of local officials and election experts. The board also incorporated public input into its plan after holding a public forum last month on vote centers.

The Miami County Board of Commissioners and County Council must also approve the plan before it is sent to the state for final review and approval.

Council members said earlier this year they would support vote centers if the election board approved the plan. Commissioners have also expressed support for vote centers.

“I think vote centers will be very favorable to voters in Miami County once folks get used to this style of voting,” said Paul Wilson, the county’s deputy of voter registration.

He said transitioning to vote-center style voting will save the county around $10,000 during every countywide election by reducing the number of voting locations and poll workers.

He said the upfront cost to purchase new electronic poll books and fully implement vote centers would be about $32,000.

All the vote centers and early vote centers would be integrated through electronic poll books connected by a secure Internet line. At least one electronic poll book terminal will be available at each location, and voters will have access to every ballot for each precinct in the county at every location.

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