Pew Election Dispatches on the benefits, and costs, of vote centers

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The most recent Election Dispatch from Pew highlights how election centers can actually result in higher costs, depending on the county and the availability of appropriate rental facilities.

I learned the same thing from Brian Newby of Johnson County, KS when he and I served on a post-election review commission in 2009.

Brian made it clear that proposals for vote centers would not work well in Johnson County. While it may surprise some from other regions, the problem in Johnson County was that there simply weren’t enough of the right kind of facilities, facilities that had reliable power and internet, could be secured every night, had easy access for voting machines and sufficient parking, were ADA compliant, and, perhaps most important of all, could be rented for a month at a reasonable rate.

Bob Stein and Greg Vonnahme have provided the scholarly grounding for vote centers, showing how they increase turnout and enhance voter convenience (ungated article here). But it’s less clear how much Bob’s results, based primarily in experiences in Colorado, might apply other jurisdictions with different population profiles, commuting patterns, and cost structures.