Marion County Clerk Beth White acknowledged Friday that she went into this week's primary election without an accurate list of the people expected to open the county's 917 voting precincts.
"That list doesn't exist," White said Friday after Marion County Republican Party Chairman Tom John called for pursuing criminal charges against the 150 poll inspectors who failed to show up for duty Tuesday.
Absent inspectors meant voters in scores of precincts found nobody home during the early hours of the election. Five precincts, with about 3,100 registered voters, never opened. White, a Democrat overseeing her first election, said she hopes it will be possible to produce a list of inspectors in the next couple of weeks . . .
White, meanwhile, cautioned against initiating legal proceedings against the poll workers who didn't show up. She said such a move could deter people from volunteering for the job, which pays $110 for a roughly 14-hour day.
White produced two lists that she said were "not updated and complete."
The first was a "source list" of potential poll workers. The other was a "snapshot" of the worker roster as it looked sometime before the election.
A final list was never put together, White said, because additions and subtractions made in the final days before the election weren't put into her office's computer.
"We didn't stop to do data entry," White said.
In other words, White is telling us you can't prosecute inspectors for failing to show because she didn't even know who was supposed to report for duty on election day. If she didn't have a final list, how could the inspectors have been properly noticed of their duty? She apparently didn't have a final list because someone didn't take the 10-15 minutes it would have taken to set up an Excel spreadsheet to enter a list of the inspectors with their contact information. Or as White put it, "We didn't stop to do data entry."
What is even worse than the degree of incompetence on display by White this week is the complete lack of concern on her part and other local Democrats that thousands of people were deprived of their fundamental right to vote in Tuesday's election. Why aren't they insisting upon a new election--at least for the precincts in which voters were completely disenfranchised? Can you imagine if this had happened under the management of a Republican officeholder? There would have already been a lawsuit filed, and the calls for the officeholder's immediate resignation would have been loudly voiced.
One thing that should happen in this case is very clear. The Justice Department's voting rights section needs to step in and begin monitoring elections in Marion County for some period of time in the near future. As John said, we clearly need "adult supervision" here. And Beth White should seriously consider whether it is in the best interests of Marion County for her to continue serving as its county clerk.