the bismarck tribune.com Bismarck,North Dakota
State elections trending to voting centers
By DALE WETZEL
Associated Press Writer
Rather than operating a network of precincts, North Dakota counties soon could have authority to set up election "voting centers" to serve people from a broader area.
"The counties and the auditors believe that this option will allow them to concentrate their resources, including personnel, equipment and materials, in the best manner on Election Day," said Sen. Carolyn Nelson, D-Fargo.
North Dakota's Senate voted 44-0 on Wednesday to give final legislative approval to a bill that allows counties to establish the centers. The measure, which was introduced at the behest of Secretary of State Al Jaeger, now goes to Gov. John Hoeven for his review.
Voting centers could have ballots for some or all of a county's precincts and voters will still get a ballot that is specific to their precinct, Nelson said. The option could help eliminate voters' confusion about where they should go to vote, she said.
North Dakotans already may vote weeks before an election by absentee ballot or by visiting their county courthouse, and the bill does not disturb those options. "This does not change any of the existing ways of voting," Nelson said.
The voting center would help North Dakotans who commute to work in larger cities within their home counties, she said.
"In our commuting society, there are voters who leave their home precinct within the county prior to the opening of the polls and are unable to return prior to the closing of the polls," Nelson said. "They want to cast an actual ballot at an actual polling site. This would allow them to do that."
The bill is HB1378.
Copyright © 2006 Bismarck Tribune, a division of Lee Enterprises.
Comments, as of 3/16/07
Front Row Seat wrote on March 15, 2007 1:42 PM:"To abc... apparently you have not studied this issue. This does not change any of the preparation work auditors will have to do in advance of an election. I take offense to that suggestion - it is clear to me you have no idea what goes into preparing for an election. Auditors and their staffs (those who have staffs) will still have to do all of the same ballot preparation, equipment testing, poll worker training, etc. What this does is provides more convenience to the voter and a more efficient use of election resources on Election Day. Do a little research on the concept of Vote Centers (see Larimer County, CO where the concept originated) and you will find there are shorter lines (if any) at the vote centers because the sites are larger, more accessible, better parking and have larger staffs than traditional polling sites. Please don't just assume a change is a negative thing. There is no question this will take plenty of planning and there will be some lessons learned as it is implemented in the counties, but ultimately it will be a good thing. I'd love to see what you have to say about it IF (as it is optional) and when you ever have the opportunity to give it a try."
Been there wrote on March 15, 2007 7:38 AM:"Another reason for this is that the population of most precincts in N.D. is dropping. I sat on an election board years ago that had five people being paid to sit around all day waiting for a whopping 32 people to trickle in for the 12 hours. Many of these precincts could be consolidated and a savings would be seen."
abc wrote on March 15, 2007 6:25 AM:"This is so wrong. It is the auditor's proposal to make their lives easier. The more they "centralize" the less work they have to do. Do you want to stand in line with 800 of your best friends? Congratulations. You are going to have your wish come true. Believe me, the day after the next election the people in Minot, Bismarck and Fargo will be screaming mad and talking about how they had to stand in line for two hours to vote. In rural couties they will be complaining about how far they had to drive and say they didn't vote when they found out they couldn't get a mail-in ballot in time. Whenever the Government is going to make something "more efficient" you can bet that you will pay the same and receive less."