AUBURN - Indiana's chief election officer, Secretary of State Todd Rokita, is supporting a proposed bill he says would make the voting process more convenient and save taxpayers money.

He said vote centers cost less for elections, improve the integrity of the election process, make voting convenient and keep local officials in control of local elections.
"The whole purpose of the vote centers is to provide flexibility to voters and place the centers near where people live and spend most of their time instead of placing the centers out of the way," Rokita said.

He said the centers would offer voting convenience by offering the option of voting at locations highly traveled by voters such as libraries, shopping malls, senior centers and grocery stores.

If approved by the General Assembly, the bill would permit counties to place voting centers at any location in their counties while voters would have the opportunity to cast a ballot at the center most convenient to them.

He said, if approved, the bill would require there be one voting center for every 10,000 voters in counties. The General Assembly has been discussing the option of voting centers since the session began in January.

The general session ends at midnight tonight. Rokita said he is unsure if the General Assembly will approve the bill during this session. He said if the assembly does not approve the bill, he will ask it to be discussed during the next session.

He said vote centers would provide taxpayer savings by providing fewer polling places, machines and poll workers.

He said the bill needs to be approved by the conference committee and Governor Mitch Daniels. If approved, the bill would not be implemented until 2010, Rokita said.

"Election administrators can move from inadequate polling places to bigger and more convenient facilities, accommodating larger numbers of voters in centralized locations while significantly reducing the number of polling places needed," Rokita said.