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INBOX: Voter Experience Project

April 10, 2013
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Letters to the Editor

To the editor:

During the last week of March, Marion County political leaders, elected officials, poll workers and community groups convened in the Public Assembly Room of the City-County Building to begin the discussion about the future of voting in Indianapolis. Launched in February, the Voter Experience Project is the Marion County Election Board’s effort to listen, deliberate and ultimately decide how and where we will vote in the future.

Why are we having this conversation now? Our current fleet of voting equipment is more than 10 years old. Purchased in 2002, the first generation machines are starting to show signs of wear despite a vigorous maintenance schedule. Replacement parts are also becoming more difficult to find. In addition, our software license and maintenance contract expire in 2014, and we don’t know if the software vendor will continue to support their product after next year.

I’m not trying to sound the alarm about our equipment – yet. The technology still has plenty of useful life left and we will continue to conduct fair, safe and secure elections. The Voter Experience Project will allow us to discuss our future needs and gather consensus from our community now to make better, more informed decisions. Like my grandpa used to say: “Fix the roof while the sun is still shining!”

There are currently two kinds of Election Day voting in Indiana: precinct-based and vote centers. In Marion County, we run precinct-based elections, meaning voters go to their home precinct to vote; vote centers mean you can vote anywhere in the county. There are costs and benefits to each, but the voting method chosen by a county is largely driven by the type of voting equipment it uses.

Marion County’s voting technology currently does a great job of meeting the needs of a precinct-based election; it would not work in a vote center model. Our equipment that accepts paper ballots is programmed to only read and tabulate results for one precinct, meaning 600 scanners would be deployed to one vote center – essentially, our entire fleet. Obviously this isn’t a workable solution.

The cost equation for each model differs, too. The county purchased enough ballot scanners (those gray boxes you use to feed your ballot) for each precinct and enough touch-screen machines for each polling place. Vote centers would require purchasing different technology – most likely resulting in a larger, more costly fleet of voting machines.

Finally, location is another critical factor to consider when deciding between the options. There are about 1,200 registered voters in each precinct. By Indiana law, vote centers have to accommodate up to 10,000 voters. Clearly it’s easier to find sites that can meet the needs of a smaller group of people, especially in a large, urban city like Indianapolis. While precinct-based elections require sites to be located in or near a voter’s neighborhood, vote centers allow for placement closer to where we shop, work and play.

These are just a few of the issues the study group will be debating and deliberating over the next few months. Study group meetings are open to the public, and you can learn more online at www.indy.gov/VEP or catch them on Channel 16. Later this summer the Board will announce the dates of the community conversations where all voters can provide their input.

I’m excited to begin this important dialogue and want to thank the members of the study group in advance for their time, energy and effort. I look forward to this critical community conversation!

Sincerely,
Elizabeth L. White
Marion County Clerk

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  1. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  2. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

  3. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  4. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  5. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

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