While Starke County hasn’t finalized a switch to vote centers yet, there isn’t enough money in the 2020 budget to hold a presidential election using precinct polling places.
Clerk Bernadette Welter-Manuel reviewed the 2020 election budget with the election board last week. She had requested almost $112,000, but the county council cut that down to just over $98,000.
“Just so everybody understands with the budget that the council has given us to work with for 2020, there is no possible way we can make 21 precincts work with this budget,” Welter-Manuel explained. “There’s just absolutely no way.”
Board Member Harrison Fields pointed out that there’s more money budgeted for polling places than what the election board will probably need. Deputy Clerk Colleen Hodge said that in past years, some of that money has been transferred to fix shortfalls in other line items. It was also noted that poll workers will no longer be provided with meals on Election Day, but they will get a $10 raise.
When it comes to switching to vote centers, Fields encouraged the rest of the election board to look at more than just the potential cost savings. “I hate these comments all the time, it’s about money, money, money,” he said. “The election is so important. Our justice system in this country is so important. We shouldn’t just look at the money part.”
Welter-Manuel says the budget is still awaiting final approval from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.