Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What's Going On At Early Voting?

Let me say from the outset that I am a big fan of Marion County Clerk, Beth White.  I was not always, but when she stepped up to take the responsibility after her first election went terribly wrong - then made vast improvements over even the previous status quo - well, she earned my admiration.

I fully realize the budget constraints under which her office is operating and White's commitment to the efficient use of taxpayer funds.  But, even with that, I have to question what is being reported by fellow blogger Josh Featherstone over at Featherstone On Government.  I have only recently become aware of Featherstone's blog, but am impressed with the quality of the writing.  I suggest everyone read his latest entry "Problems with Early Voting at the Clerk's Office Today?" in its entirety.

Featherstone relates his experience while voting at the Early Voting Center in the Clerk's Office of the City-County Building.  He points out that the election board is using early voting ballot envelopes that are from the last primary.  Highlighted on those envelopes are the blanks that must be filled in - well, must be filled in if the ballot going into them are primary ballots.  One of the highlighted questions apparently is party affiliation.  Featherstone writes:
The first problems lie at your first stop, the entry desk where you complete the information on your envelope. See, the areas of essential information you need to fill out have been highlighted for you. The problem is, many (if not all) of the envelopes in use are left over from the primary. The problem with that is that the section asking for you to declare a party for your ballot are highlighted.
I'm knowledgeable enough about politics that I am aware that declaration does not occur in a general election, only in a primary. I asked why it was highlighted, the gentleman said it was a leftover from primary and to ignore it. Then the gentleman to my right asked why he had to declare and was told the same thing. The person to my left did not ask, and checked the box for a political party.

It makes me wonder his many people didn't bother or know to ask, and just checked a party. If there, God forbid, was a nefarious election worker, they would then have clear indication of what ballots to "misplace" on election day.
Featherstone hit the nail on the head.  What of the potential for abuse offered by these leftover ballot envelopes.  Elections are not only supposed to be above board, they are supposed to be preventative of abuses. 

I am also left wondering about how these many pre-highlighted ballot envelopes remain from the May primary?  Yes, I can see having leftover envelopes in goodly quantities.  Its just that over 6000 people are reported to have voted early already for the November 8 election.  How is it that there were over 6000 leftover ballots that were already highlighted by hand? 

White's integrity on election matters is above reproach in my mind.  But, what I think does not matter.  The use of old ballot envelopes may be fiscally prudent, but their use with pre-highlighted requests for statement of party affiliation is logically imprudent.  If this election ends up being close, these old ballot envelopes may just be fodder for not only an appeal, but fodder for an electorate who does not recognize the ultimate victor's legitimacy.


Downtown Indy said...

I think the Clerk should be required to report daily, exact, totals of early ballots submitted.

Then the number of ballots counted can be compared.

The advocates of early voting poo-poo voter fraud concerns by telling us 'there have been no documented cases of voter fraud.' Which could easily mean they just haven't been caught.

Josh said...

Thanks for sharing.

You're completely right. If this race ends up so close that a recount occurs, we're going to be hearing for four years about our falsely elected officials. It'll be worse than two months of pitiful campaign commercials.

Anonymous said...

We already have investigations of vote tampering around this state. Are these best practices by the capitol city clerk?

Anonymous said...

HELP! I know this isn't a post about Decatur Township Schools but I don't know where to go! I tried to get in touch with the School Board members about a problem I've been having for MONTHS NOW. I talked to 4 of the 5 but why can't I get in touch with Cathy Wiseman? I hear she doesn't even live in Decatur Township!!!!!!!!! HELP

guada210 said...

I voted Thursday and my envelope did not question which party I was declaring?
Could the problem of having to indicate party affiliation been fixed?

Had Enough Indy? said...

guada- that is what I heard. Glad you report that was the case.

Anonymous said...

@DowntownIndy: Your idea is great but here is a problem that I came across 13 years ago when I worked for the Clerk's Office:
There were absentee votes were NOT counted because we did not have enough volunteers to get the ballots delivered to the precinct by 6pm. 13 years later maybe the way absentee ballots are delivered is different but back then we had cabs drive us to polling places, where we had to deliver the ballots, have the inspector sign off and then we were off to our next stop.
I had an elderly lady with me who took much longer to get in and out of the cab and up to the precinct so we did not get all our ballots delivered. All ballots that did not get delivered did NOT COUNT.