Introduction

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. Colorado was the first state to use vote centers with a pilot program in Larimer County. States either permit jurisdictions to replace precincts with vote centers, or have required them statewide.

  • Seventeen states allow jurisdictions to use vote centers on Election Day: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa (for some elections), Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
  • Additional states may permit the use of vote centers during the early voting period.

Possible advantages:

  • 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.

Possible drawbacks:

  • Tradition — The civic experience of voting 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 — Many jurisdictions 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.

State Specifics

State

Year Enacted

Location Within Jurisdiction

Number Required

Method of Verifying Voter Identity

Arizona

Ariz. Rev. Stat. §16-411(B)(4)

2011

HB 2303

 

2019

SB 1090

The county board of supervisors and the county recorder establish voting centers at county offices or other locations in the county deemed appropriate.

Not specified.

A voter must show acceptable identification.

Arkansas

Ark. Stat. Ann.

§7-1-113

§7-5-101

(e)(1)(A)

2013

HB 1875

Not specified, but locations must have a secure electronic connection that prevents unauthorized access to the computerized registration book.

A county board of election commissioners may establish 1 or more vote centers.  

The vote center shall have a secure electronic connection to prevent an elector from voting more than once.

California

West's Ann. Cal. Elec. Code § 4005

2017

SB 117

Equitably distributed across the county so as to afford maximally convenient options for voters and at accessible locations near to public transportation routes. When locating vote centers election officials must also consider a variety of factors outlined in § 4005(10)(B).

1 vote center for every 50,000 registered voters from 10 days before until 4 days before the election. 1 vote center for every 10,000 registered voters in the three days before the election through election day.

Vote centers must have an electronic mechanism for county election officials to immediately access voter registration data and determine whether or not the voter has been issued a vote by mail ballot, and whether or not a ballot has been received by the election officials. The electronic mechanism shall not be connected in any way to the voting system.

Colorado

Colo. Rev. Stat.

§1-5-102.9

 

2004

SB 153

Must consider proximity to public transportation and availability of parking; geographic features that affect access and convenience; equitable distribution across county; existence and location of population centers; access for voters with disabilities; use of existing voting locations that serve a significant number of electors; and use of public buildings.

Counties with 25,000+ active electors: 1 center per 30,000 active electors (at least 1) during early voting; 1 per 15,000 active electors on Election Day (at least 3).

 

Counties with 10,000 to 25,000 active electors: at least 1 center during early voting and at least 3 centers on Election Day.

 

Counties with <10,000 active electors: at least 1 center during early voting and on Election Day.

Each voter service and polling center must provide secure computer access and access to the centralized statewide voter registration system.

Hawaii

Haw. Rev. Stat. §11-109

 

2019 HB 1248 (in effect beginning 2020) At the office of the clerk and may be established at additional locations within a county as designated by a clerk to service the particular needs of a county's voters.  At least one at the office of the clerk, and others as designated by the clerk to service the particular needs of a county's voters. Beginning in 2020 all elections will be conducted by mail and voter service centers are established to receive ballots, provide return identification envelopes, machines for voters with disabilities, and other voting services.  Not specified. 

Indiana

Ind. Code

§3-11-18.1

Vote Center Information

 

2006

HB 1011 (pilot project)

 

2011

SB 32

Among other things, the vote center plan must include the total number of centers to be established, the number of voters within the county, the number of precincts whose polls will be located at the vote center and a certification that the center complies with accessibility requirements.

Counties with 25,000+ active voters: at least 1 center for each 10,000 active voters and a center for any fraction of 10,000 voters.

Vote centers must have electronic poll books that create a secure electronic connection between the county election board and precinct election officials administering a vote center.

Iowa

Iowa Code §49.11

§49.21

Iowa Admin. Code 721-21.75(49)

2008

HF 2620

Note: Vote centers are authorized only for city, school and special elections in Iowa

Must be in a central location and accessible to persons with disabilities. At least 1 must be located within the boundaries of the political subdivision for which the election is being conducted.

Not specified. Designated by the county commissioner of elections.

Voting centers may have paper or electronic registers, but may not have interactive, direct access to the statewide voter registration database. It is a crime of election misconduct in the first degree if a person knowingly votes or attempts to vote at more than one voting center for the same election.

Kansas

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 25-2701(a)(1)

2018 

SB 130

At the discretion of the county election officer, all voters within a county may be allowed to vote at any polling location on election day, provided all rules and regulations are followed as established by the secretary of state for such purpose. Not specified. Not specified.

Nevada

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 293.3072

2019

AB 345

At the discretion of county clerks. A county clerk may establish one or more locations.  County clerks shall determine if a person is registered to vote in the county and has not already voted, instruct the voter to sign the roster or a signature card, and verify the signature of the voter. If the signature of the voter does not match, the voter must be identified by providing relevant personal data or proof of identification. 

New Mexico

N. M. Stat. Ann. §1-3-4

2011

SB 337

 

2019

HB 407

Any voter of the county may vote on a regular ballot at any voter convenience center in the county, which must be accessible and centrally located within a consolidated precinct. The board of county commissioners shall give due consideration to input received from any local public body in the county regarding the location. 

One voter convenience center within each consolidated precinct, which shall be a consolidated precinct made of no more than 10 precincts. The county clerk may maintain any alternate voting locations or mobile alternative voting locations previously used in the same election. 

Each consolidated precinct polling location shall have a broadband internet connection and real-time access to the statewide voter registration electronic management system.

North Dakota

N.D. Cent. Code

§16.1-04-02

2007

HB 1378

Accessible to the elderly and physically disabled. Must serve as a designated polling place for at least one precinct in the county in addition to serving as the site where any county voter may cast a ballot.

Not specified.

Not specified.

South Dakota

S.D. Codified Laws §12-14-17

2012

SB 58

Not specified.

Not specified.

Secure, encrypted electronic poll books shall be used in lieu of paper registration books.

Tennessee Tenn. Code Ann. §2-3-301 to §2-3-308

 

2008

HB 3687

(pilot project for some municipalities)

 

2011

HB 1268

(pilot project expanded to additional municipalities)

 

2017

SB 2101

(pilot project expanded to some counties)

Locations must consider

the density of the county population, the geographic dividers, and all other facts and circumstances that exist within the county.

1 for every 10,000 registered voters, but at least 2 in the county.

Each center must have a secure electronic connection to the computerized voter registration system permitting all voting information processed by any computer at a convenient voting center to be immediately accessible to all other computers at all convenient voting centers in the county. The secure electronic connection shall be sufficient to prevent any voter from voting more than once and to prevent unauthorized access to the computerized voter registration system.

Texas

Tex. Election Code §43.007

2009

HB 719

Counties must adopt a methodology for determining where each vote center (known in Texas as a countywide polling place) will be located and solicit input from organizations who represent minority voters during this process.

The total number of countywide polling places may not be less than 50% the number of precinct polling places that would otherwise be located in that county; or 65% of the number of total precinct polling places in the first year in which the county participates in the program. The total number of permanent branch and temporary branch polling places open for voting in a county commissioners precinct does not exceed more than twice the number of permanent branch and temporary branch polling places in another county commissioners precinct.

 Countywide polling places require a computerized voter registration list that allows an election officer at the polling place to verify that a voter has not previously voted in the election.

Utah

Utah Code Ann. §20A-3-701 to §20A-3-703

2011

HB 130

Must be located in a government building or office (unless there is none available) that can be scheduled for use during election day voter hours, has the physical facilities necessary to accommodate election day voting requirements, has adequate space and has adequate security, public accessibility and parking.

Not specified.

A voting center ballot must be capable of being retrieved by the election official during the canvass if the voter cast a ballot at another location or before election day.

Washington

RCW 29A.40.160

2011 Voting centers shall be located in public buildings or buildings that are leased by a public entity including, but not limited to, libraries. Not specified. The county auditor shall require any person desiring to vote at a voting center to either sign a ballot declaration or provide identification.

Wyoming

Wyo. Stat. § 22-1-102

2015

SF 52

Not specified.

Not specified.

Vote centers must be connected through secure internet connections to provide voting information to and receive voting information from the electronic poll book maintained by the county clerk.

 

Additional Resources

For More Information

For more information on vote centers, email NCSL's elections staff or call 303-364-7700.