Apr. 1—ANDERSON — In what was described as an historic action, the Madison County Election Board has approved a vote center plan.
The Election Board voted unanimously Wednesday to implement vote centers starting with the 2022 election cycle, pending approval by the Indiana Secretary of State's office.
This is the third time Madison County has attempted to adopt the vote center concept for elections.
An effort failed in 2014 when there wasn't a unanimous vote by the Election Board members, and in 2019 the previous Madison County Board of County Commissioners didn't approve the concept.
"It is historic and I'm excited," Madison County Clerk Olivia Pratt said following the vote, "for the citizens and voters. I think they will be happy.
"It was my goal to get vote center adopted for the county," she added. "I want to thank Ludy Watkins and Darlene Likens for their support of vote centers."
Pratt said she was confident the vote center proposal would be passed this year when Republican Darlene Likens replaced Republican Mike Phipps as a commissioner.
Thomas Newman Jr., the chairman of the Madison County Democrat Party and a member of the Election Board, said the decision moves the county into the 21st century.
"We have streamlined the process," he said. "We're taking advantage of the available technology."
Russ Willis, Republican Party chairman and president of the Election Board, thanked community members for their support of the vote center concept.
He took time to mention Watkins, a former Election Board member and chairwoman of the Democrat Party, for her efforts to implement vote centers.
"She has been in the trenches with me since 2014," Willis said.
As proposed, there will be eight satellite locations open for early voting for two weeks prior to the primary and general election day.
Those facilities will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on two Saturdays.
The county will have a total of 30 vote centers on election days.
Pratt said there will be a minimum of eight voting machines at the vote centers and satellite locations.
Newman said with electronic poll books registered voters can cast a ballot at any of the locations.
"The primary election will be used to do any fine tuning if necessary," he said. "The work done has been very promising."
The current proposal includes more vote center and satellite locations than were included in the 2014 plan, Willis said.
Pratt said every voter will receive notification in the mail before the 2022 primary election of the locations for voting.
"We have an outreach plan," she said.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.