The proposed creation of 40 “vote centers” in Allen County was intended to save money and improve efficiency. The fact that they might have just the opposite effect has the Allen County Election Board reconsidering the entire concept.
In a meeting that will also include a possible fine against Allen County Council candidate and new Downtown Improvement District Interim President Bill Brown, the board next week is expected to discuss how limitations of the county's current electronic voting machines may make vote centers impractical, at least for now.
“There are issues with our machines, and new ones could cost $3 million,” Director of Elections Beth Dlug said, noting that the need to include all 327 precincts would make the existing machines unacceptably slow to program and tabulate.
“Programming would take two to three weeks, and counting votes could take days instead of hours,” she said.
Vote centers are considered more convenient because they would accommodate all county residents, regardless of address. They have also been advertised as more efficient. When an eight-member panel recommended two years ago that Allen County move toward such a system, the need for fewer poll workers and machines was expected to save the county at least $80,000 per election. But those projections are now in doubt.
The Election Board will also contact the machines' manufacturer to see whether they can be reprogrammed to accommodate vote centers at a lower cost, Dlug said.
The possible fine against Brown, meanwhile, stems from a supplemental finance report his County Council campaign filed May 1. The deadline for reporting the $1,500 contribution from Votaw Electric was three days earlier, Dlug said, meaning Brown could be fined $75 if the board follows its past guidelines of charging non-office-holders $25 per day.
The Republican Brown, a former County Commissioner named to succeed Rich Davis as head of the DID earlier this month, said the late filing was a simple oversight.