FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – People in Noble County had the chance to be a part of history Tuesday. It’s one of nine counties in the state to implement new voting centers for the 2014 Primary.
According to the Indiana Elections Division website, a vote center is “a polling place where any eligible voter in the county may go to vote.” It allows voters to go to any polling location in their county, instead of being restricted to just one.
This is the first election for the new voting centers in Noble County, and county officials said it’s giving voters more flexibility and saving the county money.
“The idea is a concept that was created in 2007 with three pilot counties. We’re here today to hear about the experience of the poll workers and the voters as well,” said Indiana Secretary of State, Connie Lawson.
Secretary Lawson stopped by this voting center in Noble County Tuesday morning. She said the voting center concept is available for all counties and growing in popularity.
“The vote centers give the counties the opportunity to have a less expensive election, so they decrease the cost, but they increase the convenience for the voter,” said Secretary Lawson.
Noble County officials said the centers give voters more options and eliminate a lot of the confusion.
“You can vote anywhere. It doesn’t matter what precinct you are. Your precinct is going to be on these machines in all eight places and you can vote there, so you’re not running all over town trying to find some place different,” said Noble County Clerk, Shelley Mawhorter.
It’s also helped the county cut back on poll workers.
“I think every county will tell you they have problems getting poll workers on election day. We went from needing 110 people to needing 45 and that’s huge,” said Mawhorter.
There wasn’t much of a line Tuesday, but that might be because of early turnout numbers. County officials said more than 1,000 people participated in early voting this year.
That’s more than double that of the 2010 Primary. Less than 350 people voted early in that election. The new centers are meant to give voters more options and eliminate confusion.
Judging by their reactions, it seems to be working.
“It was smooth as silk, no crowd, and easy voting,” said Rex Cole who has lived in Noble County for 47 years.
Ann Boggs also lives in Noble County and worked in the county clerk’s office for more than 30 years. She’s seen all types of voting machines and elections throughout the years.
“I came out here. I don’t live very far from here, so it was the easiest place and they’re just buzzing them right through in there,” said Boggs.