By Neal Earley
The Monroe County Elections board held a public meeting Thursday night at the Monroe County Courthouse to discuss the current voting system in the county.
The board heard public comments on the election process. One of the chief concerns brought up at the meeting was Indiana’s “dead voter” law, which requires that absentee votes not be counted until the day of the election in case the voter dies.
The election board is made up of three members: Lorraine M. Farrell, chair; Bryan Lemonds, Republican member; and Linda K. Robbins, secretary for the board and Monroe County Clerk.
The election board asked the public to come and raise concerns from the last election and what they could do to make the vote counting process smoother.
Tucked into the seating gallery at the Judge Nat U. Hill meeting room on the third floor of the Monroe County Courthouse, voters stood up during the public comment section of the meeting, the one thing on the agenda for the night.
Most who spoke up at the meeting, as well as the election board, agreed that the Indiana law created backlog in the vote ?counting process.
“Either repeal of this law or change in the time in which reconciliation of absentee ballots can begin will alleviate the bottleneck we now have,” said Kate Cruickshank, former chair of the Monroe County Voting Systems Advisory Council, who spoke up during public comment. “If we want earlier results in our elections, the best course of action is to put pressure on the Indiana General Assembly to repeal or change the ‘dead voter’ law.”
Retired IU professor of biology George Hegeman, Monroe County resident James Allison and Monroe County Republican Party chairman Steve Hogan all agreed with Cruickshank’s assessment on the law and said they hope the Indiana legislature acts.
“I haven’t found too much interest from the state of Indiana at this point,” Robbins said in response to a call to change the ‘dead voter’ law. “We are the only county that uses paper ballots during the early voting ... (and) because we are the only county that uses that system, it is a very small priority on their list.”
Robbins also said at the meeting that the issues concerning the delay with the counting of the absentee ballot in November’s election will most likely continue in the 2015 Bloomington city elections.
Of the four who signed up to speak prior to the meeting, Hogan, the last to take the podium, expressed concerns on a variety of ?issues.
Hogan said voters came to him with concerns about issues such as producers that include the security of the ballots, if absentee ballots did not have to be signed in special circumstances and recount procedures, particularly those in Salt Creek Township.
Also discussed at the meeting was the use of electronic voting machines and the belief by some who attended that paper ballots were a slower but more accurate way to count votes.