Early voting will continue thanks to new south-side location

The Public Safety Academy will serve as an early satellite voting site in 2018. (News-Sentinel file photo)
Tim Pape

Early satellite voting will return in next year’s elections thanks to a deal approved Wednesday by the Allen County Election Board.

Tim Pape, Democratic member of the three-member board, had previously objected to the four 2018 sites identified by the Election Board staff, saying they did not provide adequate access for residents of the heavily Democratic southeast side. The board Wednesday initially considered the Summit at 1025 W. Rudisill Blvd., Manchester University at 10627 Diebold Road, Ivy Tech at 3800 N. Anthony Blvd. and Indiana Weslyan University at 8211 W. Jefferson Blvd., but Pape attempted to add the Public Safety Academy 7602 Patriot Crossing on the former Southtown Mall site.

That motion failed to receive a second, in part because Republican member Tom Hardin and County Clerk Lisa Borgmann did not want to reduce hours of operation by adding a fifth site. Pape then suggested replacing the Summit with the Safety Academy, and the motion passed unanimously.

Although the decision will be finalized early next year, tentative plans call for early voting to operate between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. In addition to the four site approved Wednesday, early voting is also offered at the Rousseau Centre downtown.

Libraries have often served as voting precincts but Director of Elections Bet Dlug said the changes are intended to reduce long lines seen in previous elections because of libraries’ limited operating hours and space for a sufficient number of machines. Voting places must also be accessible and provide ample parking.

Pape has also questioned whether early voting attracts enough participation to justify the $40,000 budget but said he is willing to continue the experiment now that the sites are “broader geographically.”