Draft plan presented for voting centers


A draft plan has been created for establishing voting centers in Dubois County.

Voting centers are different from traditional polling places in that a voter can vote at any center on Election Day; the voter does not have to return to his or her precinct polling place to cast a ballot.

County Clerk Amy Kippenbrock shared the plan with the Dubois County Commissioners Monday. The plan was worked on by a committee of officials representing all areas of the county.

“No one wanted to get rid of any of the locations,” Kippenbrock said. This has been her stance as well.

But when committee members looked at the last voter turnout totals at all 10 voting locations currently used, they found that that Election Day turnouts at the Arnold F. Habig Community Center and at Vincennes University Jasper were the lowest of the 10. The committee determined that those two could be combined into one and that one center be placed at the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center.

The Habig Center representatives would prefer to not be a voting place because of the programming it has for seniors. They agreed to do so last year because the National Guard Armory was being used for COVID-19 services.

VUJ is a good voting place, but workers have had internet issues there in the past, Kippenbrock explained. “If we go to vote centers, internet is an absolute must,” she said. “We must connect to the internet all the time with our iPads, so we know that you have checked in at that location and can’t go somewhere else and check in."

Another location change in the draft of the plan is the voting location in Dubois. That would move from the Dubois Intermediate School to the community building at the Dubois Ruritan Park. “They’ve built a new, really nice community building at the park,” Kippenbrock said. “I think that would work out fabulously.” The school district and park owners support the change, she said.

According to state code for establishing vote centers, two Election Day sites must be open for voting on the two Saturdays before Election Day. Because of population, Kippenbrock would prefer those to be the Huntingburg and Ferdinand sites. There may be an issue with having that happen at the Ferdinand Community Center, which is where Election Day voting is held, because of the number of Saturday rentals at the center for events like weddings.

“If Ferdinand says they can’t make it work, then we will have to find one of our other Election Day sites,” Kippenbrock said. She is confident some kind of arrangement can be made.

The county election board must give the final approval for the plan to be put in place, and that approval must be unanimous, Kippenbrock. Before that can happen, the commissioners and Dubois County Council must approve a resolution making the county a vote center county. The election board must make sure and agree that all locations are ADA compliant. Those approvals must be included in the plan.

There must also be a public meeting, which Kippenbrock hopes will be held in July, and then a 30-day period for the public to respond. The plan will be online for the public to review and give feedback, she said.

The commissioners approved the resolution at Monday’s meeting. The county council meets next week.

The commissioners also:

• Approved various annual funding requests, which will be placed into the commissioners 2022 budget proposal

• Increased their annual allocations to the Dubois County Solid Waste Management District by $16,000, to $247,000, and to Southern Indiana Resource Solutions, or SIRS, by $3,000, to $40,000.

• Agreed to add $5,000 into their budget for Adult Protective Services; the county council has also stated that it supports an allocation to the agency.

• Approved creating a new position at the probation department to help with the heavy work load. The county council must agree to fund the position for it to go into effect. Commissioner Chad Blessinger suggested that some of the revenue from the corrections and rehabilitation income tax could possibly be used for the position; where the funding comes from is determined by the council.

• Agreed to add a part-time deputy to the county coroner office, so long as the council agrees to fund the position.

• Created a pretrial officer for pretrial services; the position will be paid for through a grant.

• Approved creating a new position at the county soil and water department and eliminating a part-time position, so long as the county council agrees to fund the new job.

• Opened a bid for Dubois County Park renovations and improvements. The $1,046,230 bid, from Jasper Lumber, was more than expected. The bid was taken under advisement.

• Were supportive of working with City of Jasper in its downtown revitalization efforts. Mayor Dean Vonderheide said it would be an estimated $5 million project that includes work to the streets, alleys, sidewalks and the area that sits within Jackson, Newton, Fifth and Seventh streets. City Attorney Renee Kabrick said that a detailed design has not yet been done; there is only a schematic design. The project will take at least a year, Vonderheide added.

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