COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner today announced the approval of funding from the state's controlling board to reimburse four Ohio county boards of elections for costs associated with the July 13, 2010 special Congressional election.
The special election also provided an opportunity to pilot a "vote center" concept authorized by a temporary state law change, resulting in substantial cost savings for the state in reimbursing the four county boards of elections involved. Total funding for this year's special Congressional primary came in at $272,236.68. The cost for a special Congressional election in the same district in 2006 was $578,474.90, using traditional election procedures.
The withdrawal of the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Representative in the 3rd Congressional District required a special election in all of Clinton and Highland counties and parts of Montgomery (most populous) and Warren counties. Ohio law (R.C. 3513.312) requires that, when a vacancy in party nomination for the office of representative to congress occurs more than eighty days before the general election, a special election must be held to fill the vacancy in nomination.
In an effort to reduce costs associated with the special election, a temporary change in Ohio law was secured to permit boards to use "vote centers," that is, a limited number of polling locations in the county (not more than four), at a county board of elections' option. Bipartisan support of a recent amendment to a bill addressing campaign transition accounts legislation, allowed the state to establish a pilot of the "vote center" concept.
Secretary Brunner had offered vote centers as a proposal in the executive summary to the EVEREST Report in December 2007, the nation's most extensive voting machine review for security and function of voting systems after troubled 2000 and 2004 presidential elections nationally. Thereafter, the idea was widely discussed in election reform efforts at a series of elections summits & meetings convened by Secretary Brunner after the 2008 Presidential Election. Vote centers have been used in other states, and the pilot project for Ohio received bipartisan support from both boards of elections officials and members of the state legislature.
"The special Congressional primary election in southwestern Ohio was an ideal situation from an election standpoint to carefully test the "vote center" concept in Ohio. Under controlled circumstances in a low turnout election we were able to demonstrate significant cost savings and that voters like the convenience of things like electronic poll books and larger, more accessible locations for voting. The pilot project was, in short, a success." said Secretary Brunner.
The Secretary of State's office documented the special election and how vote centers were used in three of the four counties using video to help Ohioans better experience how this concept works in a real-world election scenario. To view the video click here: July 13 Special Election - Vote Centers"If we implement early, absentee, in-person voting coupled with vote centers on Election Day - we could be looking at the future of election administration in the county," - Steve Harsman, Director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections (most populous county of the Congressional district) on the administration of the July 13, special election.