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Contact: AJ Freeney-Ruiz
Indianapolis, IN - Secretary of State Todd Rokita returns today after leading a delegation of elected state leaders and other officials gathered to observe vote centers in Larimer County, Colorado. Introduced in 2003, Larimer County created thirty "vote centers" as a cost-cutting move by merging 143 precincts and became the first county in the nation to turn solely to vote centers for early voting and for Election Day. Typically located in high-traffic areas, vote centers allow anyone to vote at any of the locations as long as the person has proper identification and is registered.
Rokita's Indiana team was the largest of three state delegations observing the vote centers. Rokita's delegation joined groups from Illinois and North Dakota to accompany Larimer County Clerk Scott Doyle in visiting five different vote centers on Election Day. Before and after the visits, the contingent met for Q&A sessions with the clerk and his elections staff. Indiana's election cycle calls for no widely held general elections this year, thus allowing Rokita and members of the delegation to observe Larimore County's system on the actual day of its use.
"The first thing I noticed at the vote centers was less stress in the faces of voters and poll workers," Rokita said. "I have come away from this trip with a very positive impression of vote centers, and the Indiana delegation did an outstanding job of identifying the benefits and hurdles of instituting a similar program in our state."
Rokita noted that Larimore County's operation appears to have significantly reduced the number of workers required to man its polling places and reduce the average age of poll workers. Such results would coincide with Rokita's efforts to trim down the 30,000 poll workers and 5,500 precincts currently required in Indiana as well as with his efforts to encourage younger generations to participate in the administration of elections.
"It was an honor to have Secretary Rokita and his delegation join us for our election," Doyle said. "First and foremost I am having fair elections, and I found the Indiana delegation to be particularly engaging and extremely interested in bettering the election process." Doyle stresses that moving his county to vote centers was based on his passion for bettering the way America votes and by creating a system where there no longer is a wrong place to vote and where voters are never turned away.
Two prominent studies conducted by the Election Center and the Commission on Federal Election Reform (A.k.a. Carter-Baker Commission) recommend vote centers as a way to increase voter participation. Larimer County saw nearly 95% of its 165,000 voters vote during the 2004 election after switching to vote centers in 2003. Vote centers in Larimore County are housed in either hotel ballrooms, vacant storefronts, large churches, or government facilities.
Names and titles of Indiana's delegation to observe vote centers:
Hon. Todd Rokita, Indiana Secretary of State
Hon. James Lewis, Indiana Senate (Minority Caucus Chairman)
Hon. Andrew Thomas, Indiana House (Chair House Elections Committee)
Hon. Edmund Mahern, Indiana House (Ranking Minority Member House Elections Committee)
Hon. Linda Grass, President of IN Association of Circuit Court Clerks and Hancock County Clerk
Hon. Shelly Hiatt Parris, Incoming President of IN Association of Circuit Court Clerks and Sullivan County Clerk
Hon. Dale Brewer, Porter County Clerk
Mr. Kyle Walker, Marion County V.R.
Mr. Joel Miller, Marion County V.R.
Mr. Joseph McLain, Indiana HAVA Administrator