GOSHEN — Elkhart County clerk Wendy Hudson is driving to Indianapolis this week to file paperwork that would allow the county to use vote centers during the May primary elections.
Submitting the vote center plan to the Indiana Election Division marks the final step in Elkhart County becoming the newest vote center county in the state. Vote centers will allow residents to cast their votes at any one of 25 designated centers spread throughout the county.
The Elkhart County Election Board unanimously adopted the vote center plan Thursday, Feb. 27. The Elkhart County Council and Elkhart County Board of Commissioners approved the plan earlier this month.
The county council agreed to set aside up to $200,000 for electronic poll books that would be used at vote centers. The election board signed a contract Thursday with ES&S to lease 155 poll books. The board chose the company based on its price and equipment features, including real-time reports that track voter turnout and problems at vote centers.
The election board reviewed five offers in January to provide the county with electronic poll books, but only four vendors — KNOWiNC, ES&S, RBM and Robis – fulfilled a requirement to make a presentation to the board demonstrating the equipment.
The election board decided to drop KNOWiNC from consideration after learning that the company would not be able to create voter access cards, which are encoded with data that creates personalized ballots for voters.
ES&S was the only company among the three remaining vendors to offer a lease option for the poll books. The contract gave the board an option of paying $219,945 for the equipment plus another $26,700 for a bar code scanner and a signature pad for the first year or signing a three-year lease agreement for $80,279 annually.
Robis’ bid included an option to buy the poll books for $242,425 plus $22,010 annually for software updates.
RBM’s offer included a rental of the equipment for $119,660 per year. The poll books would have been returned to the company in between elections.
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.