Last updated July 28, 2011
Vote centers are an alternative to traditional, neighborhood-based precincts. When a jurisdiction opts to use vote centers, voters may cast their ballots on Election Day at any vote center in the jurisdiction, regardless of their residential address. Nine states now either permit jurisdictions to replace precincts with vote centers, or have authorized vote center pilot projects in selected jurisdictions.
- Voter convenience--citizens can vote near home, near work or school, or anywhere that is convenient.
- Financial savings--with fewer locations to staff, Election Day expenses are reduced.
- Turnout--because of convenience, turnout may increase.
- Tradition--the civic experience ofvoting with neighbors at a local school, church, or other polling place is changed.
- Voter education--vote centers can cause confusion if the switch isn't well publicized and explained to the public.
- Equipment--vote centers must be able to produce the appropriate ballot for each voter; this requires either touchscreen machines that can be reset for each voter or "print-on-demand" equipment.
- Technology--jurisdictions must first convert to the use of "electronic poll books;" when a voter casts a ballot in one location, it is recorded at all locations via networked computers.
2003 -- Larimer County, Colo., created the first vote centers.
2006 -- Indiana began a pilot project in five counties.
by 2010 -- North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas had begun pilot projects.
2011 -- Arizona, Indiana, New Mexico,Tennessee, Texas and Utah passed legislation to permit (but not require) all jurisdictions to use vote centers.
Indiana's Office of the Secretary of State
Larimer County, Colo.'s County Clerk and Recorder website
For More Information
For more information on vote centers, email NCSL's elections staff or call 303-364-7700.