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.
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.
Monroe County election supervisor Karen Wheeler indicates the height of the stack of ballots that arrived after noon on June 2 and did not count.
Low curb at Grandview Elementary School, which was bridged with a portable ramp.
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.
Screen grab of May 7, 2020 meeting of the Monroe County election board.
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.
Election staffer Sherry Morris and election board chair Hal Turner.
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.]
Vote by mail (no-excuse absentee voting) has already been approved as an option for the June 2 primary election in Indiana. On April 22, the state’s election commission will meet and possibly consider a mail-only election.
The view through the east window of Election Central at 7th and Madison streets on Friday morning. Deputy clerk Tressia Martin (left) and election supervisor Karen Wheeler conduct the logic and accuracy test of the new Hart Intercivic voting equipment.
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.
At their meeting last Thursday, Monroe County’s election officials reviewed the precautions they had in place, before any cases had been reported. After the report of the first two cases, officials told The Square Beacon they’re sticking to those precautions, which are based on guidelines for polling stations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The CDC’s guidelines include actions that can be taken before Election Day, like encouraging mail-in and early-voting options. Voting early, even if in person, reduces the size of gatherings, compared to a scenario where everyone votes on Election Day.
Last Thursday’s meeting of Monroe County’s election board included an alert from board member Carolyn VandeWiele about a bill that’s been introduced for this year’s session of Indiana’s General Assembly.