Vote centers approved in St. Joseph County, to go into effect for primaries

SOUTH BEND — A new election model will go into effect during the May primaries, allowing St. Joseph County residents to vote at any polling place in the county.

The “vote center” model was adopted by the St. Joseph County election board Friday afternoon, ending the requirement that voters cast their ballots at their specific precinct. The new model is already in use in 38 of Indiana’s 92 counties, and is billed as a convenience and to help eliminate incidents of voters having provisional ballots tossed out after voting in the wrong precinct. In last year’s primary election, 28 provisional ballots were tossed for just that.

It’s not the first time the election board has looked at implementing voting centers in the county. In 2014, a plan was floated to implement the system and trim the number of voting sites down from 146 to around 40 locations. That plan was opposed by Democrats who were concerned it would depress voter turnout.

This time around, the implementation doesn’t include a substantial closure of polling locations.

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