Monroe County election board mulls investigation of unlawful electioneering at polls by voter wearing COVID-19 mask with candidate’s name

Monroe County’s election board could eventually wind up conducting an investigation of unlawful electioneering by a voter at the early in-person polls.

The voter has been described as wearing a COVID-19 mask with a candidate’s name printed on it, inside the polling location at Election Central, while voting was taking place. The voter, who was allowed to cast a ballot, refused to swap to a different mask or turn his own inside out.

That appears to be a violation of Indiana’s state election law, which says that electioneering is not allowed inside a polling place.

The definition of electioneering includes “expressing support or opposition to any candidate” and “wearing or displaying an article of clothing, sign, button, or placard that states the name of any political party or includes the name, picture, photograph, or other likeness of any currently elected federal, state, county, or local official.” [IC 3-14-3-16]

It was an election worker who gave the county election board a report on the matter at its Monday morning meeting, which was held to square away any remaining issues before Election Day.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the voter could wind up charged with committing a Class A misdemeanor, according to Matthew Kochevar, who is co-general counsel for the Indiana Election Division.

The punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

To get to an outcome involving jail time and a fine, the county election board could investigate the electioneering allegation at a public meeting of the board under[ IC 3-6-5-31],  Kochevar wrote in an emailed message to The Square Beacon. The election board could then vote to forward the matter to the county prosecutor under [IC 3-6-5-32], as a violation of the electioneering statute, Kochevar said.

According to a statement issued by Monroe County election board member Carolyn VandeWiele late Monday, she spoke to the Monroe County prosecutor’s office and confirmed: “They will prosecute any offenses that we bring before them.” Continue reading “Monroe County election board mulls investigation of unlawful electioneering at polls by voter wearing COVID-19 mask with candidate’s name”

Accessible polling sites in a pandemic: Monroe County election board grapples with decisions

By next Tuesday, Monroe County’s three-member election board needs to decide the final locations of polling sites for the Nov. 3 general election.

One of the sites has a steep concrete slope leading to an entrance.  Board members are trying to figure out how to make it accessible for people who use wheelchairs to get around.

Another key consideration for poll site selection is the amount of space available for creating adequate distance between voters, to reduce chances of spreading the COVID-19 virus.

At the last couple Tuesday afternoon election board meetings, which are planned weekly until further notice, board members have discussed site selection issues.

They also reviewed the precautions that being taken to protect voters and poll workers from spread of COVID-19 at the polls. That’s a consideration for some people who might be considering taking a turn as a poll worker this year. Continue reading “Accessible polling sites in a pandemic: Monroe County election board grapples with decisions”

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.

nov. 3 new poll vote

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 clerk on 2020 general election: “I know seven polling sites are not going to cut it in November.”

The Nov. 3, 2020 general election will be likely be administered under the standard prevailing laws and rules in the state of Indiana.

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Chair of Monroe County’s three-member election board, Hal Turner at the July 2, 2020 meeting, which was conducted on the Zoom video-conferencing platform.

That’s what Monroe County election board members are assuming, based on discussion at their regular meeting on Thursday.

That would mean no-excuse absentee balloting, which was enacted just for this year’s primary election by Indiana’s state election commission, won’t be in place for the general election.

So Monroe County board members are planning to use all 34 election day polling sites in November, not just the seven that were used for the June 2 primary.

The four-member bi-partisan state commission decided in late March to allow voters to request an absentee ballot to vote by mail for any reason.

Allowing no-excuse absentee voting was an effort to reduce the number of people voting in person at the polls on election day, to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic virus. Continue reading “Monroe County clerk on 2020 general election: “I know seven polling sites are not going to cut it in November.””

Election board OKs 3 of 23 provisional ballots from June 2 primaries

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As Monroe County election board chair Hal Turner put it, everything the board did on Friday was based on Indiana’s election code. (Screen grab from video of meeting to which the image links.)

In a Friday afternoon meeting that lasted just a bit over a half hour, Monroe County’s election board reviewed 23 provisional ballots cast at the June 2 primary elections.

That’s about a minute and 20 seconds per ballot.

The board accepted three provisional ballots and rejected the other 20. Provisional ballot review was the only item of business for the three member board, which consists of the county clerk, Nicole Browne, and two members appointed by the county chairs of the two major political parties. Continue reading “Election board OKs 3 of 23 provisional ballots from June 2 primaries”

Monroe County election board debriefs on day at the polls, provisional ballots to be reviewed June 12

Thursday afternoon, two days after the June 2 primary election, Monroe County’s election board reviewed how things went on Election Day, under the accommodations made to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

They also reviewed the accommodations that were made as required under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which includes ADA compliance.

For this election at least, the seven polling sites got good marks from disabilities activist Randy Paul. Cones with disability placards were set up to mark off parking spaces closest to whichever entrance that was being used for polling.  And temporary ramps were installed in some locations, like a low curb at Grandview Elementary School.

According to the unofficial cumulative results, 26,791 (27.53 percent) of 97,325 registered voters cast a ballot on Tuesday. That’s fewer, numerically and percentage-wise, than for the 2016 primary, when 38,326 (35.32 percent) of 108,517 registered voters turned out. Continue reading “Monroe County election board debriefs on day at the polls, provisional ballots to be reviewed June 12”

If you still have your ballot, please hand-deliver, says Monroe County election official

 

On Wednesday, Monroe County election board member Carolyn VandeWiel passed along a kind of public service announcement to The Square Beacon:

If you still have your absentee ballot, don’t drop it in the mail.

Please hand-deliver it to Election Central.

Election Central is at the corner of 7th and Madison Streets in downtown Bloomington. Continue reading “If you still have your ballot, please hand-deliver, says Monroe County election official”

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”

Seven in-person polling locations set for June 2 primaries in Monroe County as election board says: Please vote by mail

On Tuesday at noon, at the the fourth continuation of a meeting that was initially convened on April 2, Monroe County’s election board approved the use of seven in-person polling sites for the June 2 primary election.

At Tuesday’s meeting, one of the sites was still not nailed down with 100-percent certainty.

Initial indications were positive from the City Church for All Nations that the facility could be used for the election, but final word was still pending, according to election supervisor Karen Wheeler. The church is the backup plan to University Elementary School, which has a construction project precluding its use. [Updated April 29, 2020 at 3:17 p.m. Election board member Carolyn VandeWiele told The Square Beacon that the church has agreed to allow its facility to be used for the June 2 primary.]

The board’s Tuesday decision on polling sites, taken at a Zoom videoconference session, gave a formal stamp of approval to a preliminary decision that had, for six of the polling sites, been made the day before. Continue reading “Seven in-person polling locations set for June 2 primaries in Monroe County as election board says: Please vote by mail”

Monroe County’s election board chair on June 2 primary: “We’ll continue to encourage voting by mail as much as we can.”

It’s possible that Indiana’s state election commission will make a decision at its April 22 meeting to eliminate in-person voting from this year’s primary election, now scheduled for June 2.

As they wait out the roughly three weeks until a possible state-level decision, Monroe County election officials are hoping that most voters will eventually take advantage of the vote-by-mail option, which already been made available to all voters for this year’s primary.

The date of the primary has already been delayed by four weeks, in a decision the state commission made last week.

The changes to the timing and manner of the primary elections in the Hoosier state are motivated by the COVID-19 pandemic that is spreading across the world. Reducing the opportunity for person-to-person transmission of the virus is a part of myriad protocols now in place across the state and locally. Continue reading “Monroe County’s election board chair on June 2 primary: “We’ll continue to encourage voting by mail as much as we can.””