Election Board delays key decisions
The Election Board convened Thursday evening to an audience of about a dozen, mostly election workers, to vote on the addition and removal of satellite voting sites as well as possibly amending opening and closing times for polls.
However, disagreement on both matters between board members pushed the final vote to next week, delaying both the hiring process for seasonal early voting workers and information dissemination to the public.
Four satellite voting locations for early voting have already been decided by the three members of the Election Board.
Discussion Thursday night focused on the possible addition of the Showers Building, 401 N. Morton St., to handle overflow voters from the Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St., the most well-known and heavily trafficked central voting location.
Lorraine Farrell, the board’s Democratic member, said the additional voting location would alleviate congestion from the Curry Building, particularly during the busy final weeks of early voting.
It would shift voters from long lines that wrap outdoors to wait inside, providing shelter from possible inclement November weather.
“We can no longer handle the same capacity of voters, the same number of voters, in the Curry atrium,” Farrell said, noting recent remodeling that lessened available space. “That’s the first part of why we need to have a second site within walking distance.”
Farrell cited the population density of Bloomington in relation to the rest of Monroe County as justification for having two voting locations so close together in the downtown area.
Nearly half the votes cast in the 2008 presidential election were early votes, so a large number of voters are expected to again turn out at these satellite sites.
Operating hours of the voting locations also were prominent in the meeting’s discussion.
Election Board Chair and Republican member Judith Smith-Ille advocated for 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. operational hours at early voting sites across the county in order to better accommodate voting citizens who work.
“My suggestion is that we be consistent across the board with early voting and absentee voting ... so that we allow business people and working people to vote,” Smith-Ille said.
Concerns about securing additional staffing at the earlier hour helped prevent full agreement on the issue.
Audience member Cindy Bradley, an early voting worker, voiced her concern about the possible time change.
“It’s one thing to expect people to get up on Election Day at 4:40 a.m.,” she said. “This just seems like an impossible burden to bear, to expect people to do this.”
Farrell and Democrat Linda Robbins, county clerk and secretary of the Election Board, voted to approve the adoption of the Showers Building as an additional satellite location, and for hours to remain from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
However, Smith-Ille did not approve of the plan, citing her need to investigate matters of parking, as well as consult her Republican party chairman, as Robbins consulted hers.
As all three members must be in agreement, no decision was made at the meeting.
Smith-Ille also said she didn’t want all the focus to be on the downtown area.
“We need to understand there’s more than just those in the city,” she said. “You have to think about everyone in the county.”
However, the board voted to remove the Indiana National Guard Armory on State Road 37 from the list due to lack of Internet access.
Board members also examined potentially adding Southside Christian Church, 500 E. Empire Mill Road, as a satellite location, though a decision on that issue was left for next week’s meeting.
The Election Board will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Showers Building, room 100B.