(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana is the first state to close its polls on Election Day. Legislators could vote to change that.
Indiana’s polls close at six p-m local time. The only other state to close that early is Kentucky. House Elections Chairman Tim Wesco (R-Osceola) has introduced a bill to extend that to eight o’clock. That would match 22 other states.
Wesco’s committee heard testimony on the proposal, but Wesco says he hasn’t decided whether to call the bill for a vote. He says even people who can’t make the current 12-hour voting window now have the option of early voting. One estimate predicts half of Indiana voters will vote early this year. And Wesco says a 14-hour voting day, plus the time needed to get the polls ready in the morning and close things up at night, could make it even harder to recruit pollworkers.
Wesco says one possible approach would be to follow Kansas and New Hampshire’s example, and give counties the option of keeping the polls open later.
The bill would also make it easier for counties to abolish traditional precincts in favor of a smaller number of “vote centers,” allowing you to vote at any polling place. 39 counties, including Marion County, use vote centers now. Current law requires county election boards to vote unanimously to establish vote centers — Wesco’s bill would allow a 2-1 majority to override a single member’s objection.
The three-member boards must be bipartisan, with the majority going to the party of the county clerk. Wesco says one possible compromise would be to allow a 2-1 vote to establish vote centers if the minority-party member is one of the yes votes.