Mystery man with political campaign mask at polls motivates election board to develop procedure to document incidents

Monroe County’s election board isn’t able to pursue the case of a voter who reportedly engaged in electioneering at the polls during early voting in October last year.

That’s because the board doesn’t know who the man is.

At its Thursday meeting, the board reviewed some initial work on a procedure for documenting future potential incidents of electioneering, so that the people involved can be identified.

At its Thursday meeting, the board also wrapped up the remaining open issue with late campaign finance forms from the last election cycle, which resulted in the calculation of a $900 fine for a candidate.

Under the board’s policy, that got knocked down to 25 percent of the allowable amount, which is $225. Continue reading “Mystery man with political campaign mask at polls motivates election board to develop procedure to document incidents”

Electioneering case at polls leaves board wondering: Who was that masked man?

Not a part of Monroe County’s election board meeting on Thursday was the expected hearing for a voter who is said to have displayed campaign material for his preferred candidate inside the polls during early voting last October.

File photo from early voting in October 2020.

The complaint that was filed with the board said he was wearing a COVID-19 mask, with the name of his preferred presidential candidate, reportedly Donald Trump. The voter refused to swap to a different mask or turn his own inside out.

He was still allowed to cast a ballot, because state law does not allow election officials to prevent someone from voting.

But the election board does not know who the man is. Continue reading “Electioneering case at polls leaves board wondering: Who was that masked man?”

Election board reviews balloting, tees up hearings on electioneering charge, fine for late finance form

At its meeting on Thursday, Monroe County’s election board set its next meeting, on Feb. 4, as the time when it will hear charges of electioneering at the polls during early voting.

Screen shot of Jan. 7, 2021 Monroe County election board meeting. Election supervisor Karen Wheeler is holding up a list of incomplete registrations that she wants board members to sign.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the board reviewed candidates with delinquent campaign finance forms.

Thursday’s board meeting included a report on a survey of people who worked the polls for the 2020 elections. The survey showed mostly positive results.

The elections also heard a review during public commentary from a voter’s perspective, given by longtime poll workers Marge and Jim Faber.

Marge Faber told the board, “As a voter, I want to tell you, that was the most fantastic voting experience I’ve ever had.” She added, “And given my age, that means over 60 years worth of voting, because I’ve never missed an election.”

After suggesting some additional signage for the Arlington Elementary School location, Faber wrapped up, saying, “Otherwise, it was fantastic. I should have written you a note earlier, and I forgot.” Thursday’s board meeting marked Faber’s 88th birthday.

At Thursday’s meeting, the chairship of the three-member board transitioned from one party’s appointee to the other, in a longstanding mutually-agreed tradition. Republican Party appointee Hal Turner, who chaired the board in 2020, passed the virtual gavel to Democratic Party appointee Carolyn VandeWiele. The third member of the board is the Monroe County clerk, who is currently Nicole Browne.

In his introductory remarks, Turner commented on the previous day’s events in Washington D.C. when pro-Trump rioters had stormed the Capitol.

“Yesterday, we saw not just an illegal act by 52 people who invaded the Capitol building, but also a gross insult to our democracy and the republic that makes our form of democracy possible,” Turner said.

Turner continued, “But the sanctity of the Constitution ultimately prevailed. And good women and men were not deterred from their sacred constitutional obligations. To quote our Indiana senator Todd Young, on the steps of the Capitol yesterday, ‘When it comes to the law, our opinions don’t matter. The law matters. I took an oath under God.’”
Continue reading “Election board reviews balloting, tees up hearings on electioneering charge, fine for late finance form”

Early in-person voting continues Saturday in Monroe County, pace so far around 100 voters per hour

Friday set another daily high for early in-person voters in Monroe County: 1,114. That eclipsed by a half dozen voters the previous high of 1,108, which was set on Thursday.

Through the first 14 days of early voting, the total of early voters stands at 14,142.

Remaining days to vote in person include this Saturday (Oct. 24), weekdays the following week, next Saturday (Oct. 31) and the final Monday before Election Day.

Election Central, where early in-person voting takes place, is at 7th and Madison streets in downtown Bloomington—the old Johnson Hardware building.

The voting totals on Saturday are almost certain to be lower than the average of about 1,000 per day that have been tallied through the first 14 days. That’s because Saturday voting hours are shorter—seven hours compared to 10 on weekdays. (For voting times and days, check Monroe County’s Election Central website.)

If the same pace of voting is maintained on Saturday, about 700 people will make their way through the line by the end of the day, which has generally wrapped at least halfway around the block.

At Friday afternoon’s weekly press conference on COVID-19 pandemic response, president of the county commissioners, Julie Thomas, said, “I personally waited an hour and 45 minutes to vote and it was worth every moment.” She added, “Everyone in line was wearing a mask, we were standing six feet apart. So it was really heartening to see that and we really appreciate the voters for doing that.”

The only early voting location in Monroe County is at 7th and Madison streets in downtown Bloomington. Continue reading “Early in-person voting continues Saturday in Monroe County, pace so far around 100 voters per hour”

Election update: Voting machine accuracy test passed; Poll workers still needed; Registration deadline Oct. 5

At 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Monroe County’s election division started running its voting equipment through the logic and accuracy test that’s required under state statute.

After two hours of testing, the county’s equipment passed with a 100-percent score, deputy county clerk Tressia Martin told The Square Beacon.

The tests were conducted at the old Johnson Hardware Building, aka Election Central, at 7th and Madison streets. The blinds on the Madison Street side of the building were opened so that the public could watch, without going inside the building. It’s was a nod to helping prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic virus.

The completion of the accuracy test crosses one more task off the list that election staff have to complete for the Nov. 3, 2020 general election.

In early September, the board of elections had settled on 28 different polling locations for the county’s 82 precincts.  That decision was given approval by the county’s board of commissioners at its regular meeting Wednesday morning, shortly after the logic and accuracy test concluded. Continue reading “Election update: Voting machine accuracy test passed; Poll workers still needed; Registration deadline Oct. 5”

Indiana’s election commission confirms primary will include in-person voting on June 2, reveals partisan sticking points despite consensus

At a Friday noon meeting, Indiana’s four-member state election commission adopted an order that says in-person voting will take place on Election Day, June 2.

Early in-person voting will be held May 26 through June 1.

Annotated revised cropped-primary-voting
Indiana’s primary has been postponed from May 5 to June 2. There will still be some in-person voting, but vote-by-mail is being encouraged.

The possibility of a vote-by-mail election, which had some advocates across the state—as a way to ensure safety for voters in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic—now appears dim, if not extinguished.

But no-excuse absentee voting, which allows voting by mail, is an option for this year’s primary.

The possibility of a vote-by-mail election, with virtually no in-person voting, was on the agenda for a previously scheduled meeting of the election commission, set for April 22 under its March 25 order.  That meeting is still scheduled as a part of the election board’s order approved on Friday.

Based on the light partisan skirmishing at Friday’s election commission meeting, any consideration of a vote-by-mail election on April 22 is likely to be ceremonial, unless the current slight trend, towards flattening of COVID-19 numbers, reverses.

“The fact of the matter is, there are some people that feel very, very strongly about voting in person,” secretary of state Connie Lawson said at Thursday’s daily press briefing by Indiana’s governor Eric Holcomb. In her remarks, Lawson previewed the action at the election commission’s meeting, which was set for the following day. Continue reading “Indiana’s election commission confirms primary will include in-person voting on June 2, reveals partisan sticking points despite consensus”