Election board adds 5 more hours for early voting in Monroe County: “Our voters need to vote.”

The line at early voting in Monroe County, Indiana at Election Central (7th and Madison) on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

The time for early in-person voting in Monroe County has been extended on Thursday and Friday (Oct. 29, 30) by one extra hour—until 7 p.m. Early voting on those days will start the same time as previously scheduled, which is 8 a.m.

On Saturday (Oct. 31), an hour has been added to the start of the day and two hours tacked on to the end, to make for a 10-hour day, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The county has one in-person early voting site, at 7th and Madison streets, aka Election Central, in downtown Bloomington.

The extra time was added by the three-member county election board in a unanimous vote taken at its Monday morning meeting.

The board was reacting to the long lines that have persisted at the one early voting site in the county, since early voting started three weeks ago.

On Saturday (Oct. 24), the line started off wrapped around the whole block from 7th and Madison streets, south to 6th Street, west on 6th to Rogers Street, north on Rogers to 7th, and back to Madison. The waiting time to vote has in some cases approached two hours and has consistently ranged between an hour to an hour and a half.

The election board is made up of Carolyn VandeWiele, the Democratic Party’s representative, Hal Turner, the Republican Party’s representative, and the county clerk, who is Nicole Browne, a Democrat. Continue reading “Election board adds 5 more hours for early voting in Monroe County: “Our voters need to vote.””

Indiana’s election commission de-certifies write-in Green Party candidate for Monroe County judge after Democratic Party challenge

On Friday morning, Indiana’s four-member bi-partisan election commission voted unanimously to take Al Manns off November’s general election list of certified candidates for Monroe County circuit court judge.

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From left: Jennifer Crossley, chair of the Monroe County Democratic Party; Al Manns, currently a write-in Green Party candidate for the Division 1 circuit court race; Randy Paul, co-chair of the Monroe County Greens.

Manns had filed as a Green Party write-in candidate for the Division 1 seat, after losing the Democratic Party’s June 2 primary to Geoff Bradley.

It was his loss in the Democratic Primary that led the party to challenge Manns as a certified write-in candidate, because he had failed to win the party’s nomination for that same seat in June.

For its challenge, the Democratic Party was relying on a state law commonly known as the “sore loser” law. [IC-3-8-1-5.5]  The statute says that if someone loses a primary election, they’re not able to be a candidate for the same office in the next general election.

So a week ago, Monroe County Democratic Party chair Jennifer Crossley challenged the write-in candidacy that Manns wanted to mount. Continue reading “Indiana’s election commission de-certifies write-in Green Party candidate for Monroe County judge after Democratic Party challenge”

Monroe County election board prepping for in-person polling numbers based on regular rules for absentee voters

The reduced number of polling sites that Monroe County used for the June 2 primary is not a part of current planning for November voting. That’s the latest word from the county election board’s meeting last Thursday.

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For the general election, the county election board is looking to use all its regular sites and maybe more, not just the seven it selected for the primary from the 34 that it typically uses.

That’s because it was only for the primary election that no-excuse absentee voting was approved by the state’s election commission this spring—during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A larger number of absentee voters means fewer people at the polls on election day.

No-excuse absentee voting is unlikely to be enacted for this year’s general election, based on Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s remarks at his press conference last Wednesday.

Holcomb is not inclined to allow mail-in balloting, except for the limited exceptions that are already listed out in the state’s election law. Continue reading “Monroe County election board prepping for in-person polling numbers based on regular rules for absentee voters”

Monroe County’s election board: Balloting by mail helps flatten voter curve for June 2 primary; but don’t expect same-day results

A mass mailing to every voter in Monroe County was due to go out at the end of this past week. That means sometime next week all voters should receive an absentee ballot application for the June 2 primary.

The mailing will also include a list of the seven polling locations that will be used for in-person voting.

Voting will be conducted during the COVID-19 public health emergency, which has been extended by Indiana’s governor Eric Holcomb.

The key part of Monroe County’s strategy remains getting as many people as possible to vote by mail. No-excuse absentee voting was made possible for this election by a special order of the state’s election commission. Continue reading “Monroe County’s election board: Balloting by mail helps flatten voter curve for June 2 primary; but don’t expect same-day results”

Monroe County election board girds for June 2 in-person primary balloting, but all voters to receive applications to vote by mail

Monroe County’s election board is preparing for the upcoming June 2 primary election by promoting the no-excuse absentee voting option that the state’s election commission has enacted just for this year’s primary.

The June 2 date is a postponement from the originally scheduled May 5 primary. Postponement of the election and no-excuse absentee voting are measures meant to help make the election safer for the voters and election workers.

Voting absentee takes a couple of steps, the first of which is for a voter to submit an application form to request a ballot.

At it’s meeting on  Thursday afternoon, the election board gave a green light to election office staffers to start prepping for a mass mailing, so that all of the county’s roughly 100,000 registered voters will receive a ballot application in the mail. Continue reading “Monroe County election board girds for June 2 in-person primary balloting, but all voters to receive applications to vote by mail”

Polling place consolidation, ballot application mailing mulled by Monroe County election board

At an emergency work session held Monday morning, Monroe County’s three-member election board took some initial steps towards implementation of the in-person primary elections described in Friday’s order by the state’s election commission.

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Monroe County’s election board is considering limiting the number of in-person polling places on primary election day (June 2) to just five locations.

Two key strategies are part of Monroe County’s plan deal with this year’s pandemic-impacted primary election.

First, the election board is looking to reduce the number of polling locations, to decrease the number of required poll workers.

Second, they’re looking at the possibility of mailing a ballot application to all roughly 100,000 registered voters in the county.

By encouraging voters to apply for and cast ballots by mail, election officials are hoping reduce the chance that poll workers and voters will infect each other with the COVID-19 virus.

The primary has been postponed, from May 5 to June 2 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which as of Monday has caused 569 deaths in Indiana in the last month. Continue reading “Polling place consolidation, ballot application mailing mulled by Monroe County election board”

Primary election prep for board includes: briefing on new voting equipment, recruiting paid election workers, clarifying why vote centers won’t be used

More than $800,000 worth of new voting equipment landed in Monroe County on Monday. The delivery came from Hart Intercivic, based in Austin Texas.

It was no surprise. That was the expected news out of Monroe County’s election board meeting on Thursday afternoon. Hart Intercivic had indicated the delivery  would come in early February.

The delivery of a semi-trailer-truck load worth of election equipment, and preliminary testing of the equipment was one of the major topics of discussion at the board’s meeting.

Another main topic was raised during public commentary by two members of the College Democrats at Indiana University Bloomington. They advocated for establishing the Indiana Memorial Union as a universal vote center, where voters from any precinct could cast a ballot.

Board members reviewed some of the reasons why that can’t happen this year, but might in the future. Continue reading “Primary election prep for board includes: briefing on new voting equipment, recruiting paid election workers, clarifying why vote centers won’t be used”

Monroe county election board looks ahead to 2020 after imposing one fine, waiving two others, finding no violation of electioneering law

Members of Monroe County’s election board met Thursday afternoon to review some logistical issues related to elections in 2020 and to wrap up some loose ends from this year’s municipal elections in Bloomington. Continue reading “Monroe county election board looks ahead to 2020 after imposing one fine, waiving two others, finding no violation of electioneering law”

Monroe County chooses Hart Intercivic for voting equipment purchase

At the work session following their regular Wednesday morning meeting, Monroe County commissioners confirmed a choice of vendor for some new election equipment: Hart Intercivic, out of Austin, Texas.

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Monroe County attorney, Jeff Cockerill, opens RFP submissions for election equipment at the county board of commissioners meeting on Oct. 23, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The other competing vendor was Election Systems & Software (ES&S), out of Omaha, Nebraska.

Based on the recommendation of a seven-person committee, the three commissioners voted to direct their attorney, Jeff Cockerill, to initiate discussions on writing a contract to purchase the equipment from Hart.

The base cost proposal from Hart was $837,411, which is less than the estimated figure of $1 million the county has been using for the project. Continue reading “Monroe County chooses Hart Intercivic for voting equipment purchase”