What are vote centers?
Vote centers are an alternative to precinct-based polling locations that allows voters greater choice in where they vote. When a county employs vote centers, voters are able to cast a ballot at any vote center in their county, instead of being limited to the specific polling location assigned to that a voter’s precinct. Following the success of Larimer County, Colorado’s vote center pilot program in 2003, a number of states (including Arizona) have adopted legislation permitting the use of vote centers. Now, Arizona counties are permitted to use vote centers instead of, or even in addition to, traditional precinct-based polling locations.
What are the advantages of vote centers?
Giving voters a choice of where to vote fits how we live today by, for example, allowing voters to vote near work or school. Further, vote centers eliminate the disenfranchisement caused by Arizona’s law requiring the ballots voted in the wrong precinct not be counted, even as to those races where the voter is in the right area. 46,000 Arizona voters had their ballots rejected for this exact reason in the 2012 general election.
Vote centers also save counties millions of dollars by eliminating the need to update and maintain voting equipment needed for more numerous polling locations. According to Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, a switch from polling locations to vote centers would “save the county as much as $30 million over the next few years because outdated polling-place equipment would not need replacing.” With 80% of Maricopa County voters now receiving ballots by mail, switching to vote centers for Election Day voting is both pro-voter and economical.