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Election Board Struggle With Complex Voter Laws

The Monroe County Election Board struggled with the complexities of election law May 16 as they decided whether to invalidate some ballots cast during the May 6 primary election.

The Board met to consider provisional ballots, which voters cast when poll workers have questions about their eligibility to vote. In one case, County Clerk Linda Robbins said a homeless man voted at the wrong polling place.

William Ellis, a substitute Board member representing the Republican party, said he would like to count the vote. But Ellis said that wasn’t possible because the voter used the wrong ballot, meaning he would have voted in some of the wrong races.

“Being homeless is a hard enough hardship and the vote, if all being equal, I’d be inclined to make this valid,” Ellis says. “It’s hard to prove where you live if you aren’t living anywhere.”

Ellis participated as a Board member even though he plans to run for office in November. Ellis has said he plans to seek the Republican nomination for County Assessor during a caucus this summer.

The Board members were not allowed to look at the provisional ballots they considered. That restriction became an issue when one voter’s paperwork was sealed in an envelope along with the ballot.

The Board voted to rule that ballot invalid. The Board considered some provisional ballots that were cast by voters who did not bring IDs to the polls. Robbins, who opposes the state’s voter ID law, recommended counting one of those ballots.

She said poll workers might not have instructed the voter on how to ensure their vote would be counted after Election Day.

“I do believe the photo ID is a burden for certain individuals,” Robbins says.

Later in the meeting, Robbins said the complex rules for casting provisional ballots are often a source of confusion during elections.

“Filling out a provisional ballot at the polls has been a huge challenge for us,” Robbins says. “It’s very confusing for everybody. Frankly, I’ll commend anybody that has the patience to stay there and must really want to vote to go through that process.”

The Board voted to invalidate two provisional ballots cast at retirement homes. The voters had been registered to vote at previous residences.

Today is first day of early voting!

Today is the first day to vote early in this year’s primary elections. Party representation on the ballots ranging from school board and townships offices to the state and federal level are up for election. Voters who want to cast their ballots before the formal primary election day, Tuesday, May 6, can do so on non-holiday weekdays and the last two Saturdays from today until May 6th. A few changes in the voting process have been instituted this voting season. One is a change of location, moving from the Curry Building to a couple blocks west at 401 West 7th Street. Linda Robbins, Monroe County Clerk and the person overseeing local voting, explains the reason for the move.

“The location’s changed but we really hope people come out and see us there and vote,” Robbins says.

Over the last few election cycles, the county has been under pressure to make the primary voting site, as well as all of the local regular voting locations, fully accessible to the physically impaired, as required by the 2002 Help America Vote Act. Receiving your ballot should also be a faster and smoother process.

“I think it will be much easier for people to come vote,” Robbins says, “We have a few new features, for example we can scan your driver’s license if that’s your form of ID and enter that. We also have new e-poll books that won’t change much for the voter, but anyone working the polls will notice a big change.”

The newly adopted E-poll books will also allow for immediate access to find out who and how many people have voted. Early voting will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, except for Good Friday, May 18, and Monday, May 5, the day before the May 6 regular voting day, when it will close at noon, as well as from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on the two Saturdays before May 6. If you have any questions, you can phone the County Clerk’s office at 812-349-2071.

Daily Local News – August 21, 2013

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Tomorrow the Monroe County Election Board will hear a proposal on a new system of voting for Monroe County residents; One of the last property owners that is still refusing to pay Monroe County’s stormwater fee is the federal government; The Bloomington Utilities Department put forward a budget August 19th asking for a $900,000 increase in spending next year; The Indianapolis to Chicago Amtrak line could be cut from daily service to just three days a week, pending a decision by the Indiana Legislature.

FEATURE
Art with Heart For Local Veterans
Elder Heart is the creation of former special forces Green Beret Magnus Johnson, who found himself apathetic and disconnected when he came to Indiana after eight years of military service. It was through working with Nashville Artist Jim Connor the Johnson began to feel connected  to civilian life once again, and he is now offering a similar outlet to other veterans and community members through the creation of public art through Elder Heart. Johnson speaks with WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh about the purpose of his organization, and the difficult transition between soldier and civilian, that results in more than eight thousand veteran suicides a year, for today’s daily local news feature, courtesy of Interchange.

BLOOMINGTON BEWARE!
Getting bonked on the head is a classic joke in movies and cartoons, but in real life it’s not funny. New research shows concussions are far more common, and much more dangerous, than we used to think.

CREDITS
Anchors: Lauren Glapa, Kelly Wherley
Today’s headlines were written by Lauren Glapa
Along with Joe Craford for CATSweek, in partnership with community access television services
Bloomington Beware is produced by Richard Fish and Reina Wong
Our engineer is Jim Lang
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh

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