(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County’s “ballot bus” has been making the rounds all over the county. Since mid-October, the Mobile Voting Unit has already been to over twenty locations.
Election officials have been parking the bus at nursing homes, apartment complexes, shopping centers, parks, and churches.
La Porte County Clerk Heather Stevens says each party appoints a person to help run the travelling polling station. “We have a Democrat appointee and a Republican appointee together at all times, so everything remains bipartisan,” she said.
Last month, alleging that the Mobile Voting Unit was being underutilized, two La Porte County Commissioners voted to take control of it. Although they reversed their decision, there were fears that mobile voting would become a pawn in the game of local politics. Stevens says ballot security is a top priority. “We want fair, safe elections. When those machines come in, they’re locked up at the end of every day,” Stevens emphasized. “It is perfectly safe. Every day those machines come back into the courthouse; they’re locked back in the election room, and it is perfectly secure.”
The cost of the vehicle was covered by a grant. Stevens admits that running it requires an investment of time and money. “We’re paying two people 40 hours a week, so I want to see people using it a bit more,” she said. “We’ve got to do a better job of getting word out and getting people used to it. So that’s something we’re working on.” The mobile voting schedule is posted on the county website, and Stevens has been posting regular updates on Facebook.
So far, according to Stevens, about 200 people have voted using the Mobile Voting Unit. Some days only a few voters show up; a busy day may see over thirty come through.
The Mobile Voting Unit is open for democracy six days a week at different locations around La Porte County. Next week it’s scheduled to visit Rolling Prairie, Hudson Lake, LaPorte, Fish Lake, and Michigan City.