Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Marion County Election Outrage: Voters In 4 Precincts Disenfranchised

For the past 8 years we have heard complaint upon complaint each election from Marion County Democrats complaining about the poor job former County Clerk Doris Ann Sadler did in running elections, sometimes justified and sometimes hyped up. Yet nothing under Sadler's tenure matches the debacle witnessed in today's municipal primary election. At least four precincts, one in Pike Township and three in Center Township, never opened for today's election. Voters in those precincts were completely disenfranchised. Voters in many other precincts were turned away. Their polling places didn't open until midday or late this afternoon. This is without precedent in modern-day elections in this county.

I find myself in total disbelief at the complete failure of Beth White to be prepared for this election. She was one of Sadler's biggest critics. She seemed sincerely interested in improving elections in Marion County. She seemed more than qualified to handle the job. Yes, White was contrite today and accepted blame for the mess. But what happened? She knew last night there was a problem when more than half the inspectors failed to pick up election materials. Why didn't she broadcast her concerns and plea for help publicly? I'm sure people would have come forward and offered their assistance. Unfortunately, her reluctance to ask for help may have been her own undoing. White will have a difficult time recovering from today's disaster. And that is truly unfortunate. She is without doubt a dedicated public servant and a genuinely good person. I hope she learns from her mistakes today and reaches out for bipartisan and nonpartisan input in her conduct of future elections.


Michael Jezierski said...

I totally agree with you Gary.

Myself and a ward chair were discussing the "great" Sadler debacles - two come to mind

1. Brent Waltz vs. Larry Borst created unprecedented turnout in those wards/precincts leading to a shortage of ballots.

2. November 2006 - ES&S programmed the wrong closing time into the scanners causing them to not close properly at 6 PM.

The latest I've seen a polling place open was maybe 7 AM under Doris Anne Sadler. Never a polling place went unopened. There is NO excuse for what happened today. NONE.

Since there likely won't be any drastic change between now and November 6th, I hope Ms. White learns from this and our Municipal Election runs smoother than this fiasco.

Anonymous said...

You're far too kind, Gary. Sadler was very good at her job, and did not deserve most of the criticism she received. Elections are MASSIVE undertakings and it's unreasonable to expect them to run flawlessly.

But what happened today is jaw-droppingly unbelievable. So bad, it's hard not to wander into conspiracy theory territory (and believe me, if White had an 'R' next to her name, plenty of people would already be there).

The honorable thing for White to do would be to publicly apologize to Sadler and plead with her to come in to help with the next election.

This was just a primary, for gods sake! What, 8-10 percent turnout? What the hells going to happen in a REAL election, after months of hype and attack ads???


It's funny how often I find myself saying 'glad I don't live in Marion County.' Well, not really funny. Kind of sad.

Anonymous said...

It is not the clerk's fault people who volunteered to be inspectors didn't show up this morning. Those that didn't show up to pick up their materials yesterday were replaced yesterday and over night. There was no need for this election, hence getting 4,500 volunteers interested in working 914 empty precincts (at 4 p.m., only 38 people in my precinct had voted) would have been daunting for anyone. I personally visited 49 polling places today and none of them opened late or reported any problems. Mnay didn't see their first voter until after 7 or 7:30 a.m. and they'd been open and ready to go at 6 a.m. The voters (and the volunteers were apathetic). And how many former Republican poll workers stopped volunteering or volunteered for this one w/ no intention of honoring their commitment, so the Dems. would look bad?

Voting by mail, regional voting, cutting down the precincts to about half what we have now, or requiring state and city workers who took today off to either work the polls or work at their desks, would overhaul this system that is leftover from huge party machines and huge pools of people available to work the polls for 12 hours.

Anonymous said...

I think you all are to easy on White. This is a disaster White should step down. She ran against a qualified candidate and verbally bashed her and Sadler every step of the way.
White should have gotten over the voter ID issue and concentrate on her real job. If she had this mess would never have happened.
White should resign

Anonymous said...

Here are my big problems from today (other than the obvious):

1) The campaign by Beth White and her Democrat friends, especially Ed Treacy, was nothing less than vicious towards Doris Ann. White and her allies painted Sadler as incompetent and promised to run "the best elections ever." What we got instead was the absolute WORST ever - maybe the worst ever in the entire country. (Where else have some polling places never even opened?)

2) I am shocked by the reports today, including admissions directly from White herself, that she knew both this past weekend and last night that several inspector packets had not been picked up. I know first hand that when the same thing happened under Doris Ann and the Republicans that they pulled out all the stops to get those spots filled. They ran ads. They held press conferences asking for help. They stayed up all night. They woke up Republican office holders, candidates and volunteers in the middle of the night to tell them that they were needed. Whatever it took - WHATEVER IT TOOK - they made sure that every inspector packet was picked up and ready to be used.

3) We cannot overlook the role of the Democrat party in this morasse. It was their volunteers - not White's - who did not show up. Given that White is also a Democrat, she absolutely shares in that blame. But it was Democrat volunteers - over 150 of them! - who did not show up to their assigned locations. The names and addresses of those pollworkers are public record. Where are the TV crews who ought to be showing up on their doorsteps demanding to know where they were this morning? At the very least, their names ought to be published in the paper - and they should be banned forever from serving in any election day role.

4) I know at least a dozen Republicans who are former inspectors who would have gladly worked today. Beth White has their names and knows their experience. Why did she not reach out to Republicans - as Republicans did regularly to Democrats - to fill those empty spaces? Ed Treacy painted this as the Republican's falling short of their responsbilities. In truth, NOT doing it - especially when that help is needed - is an inexusable display of arrogance and incompetence.

5) I was flat out angered to hear Mike O'Conner tell Abdul that these problems would have been resolved if precincts had been combined. Well, he should better talk with his boss, the Mayor, who has full responsibility for that work. I know the Sadler and Mike Murphy tried multiple times to get the Mayor to address that issue, but he always refused (probably because he knew that Republicans had to get more volunteers to fill the board!). Now that refusal has come back to bite in the rear, and O'Conner and the Mayor have absoluately nobody to blame but themselves.

6) Excuses offered by those like 6:12 are absolutely ludicrous. There have been plenty of low turnout elections in the past; but none of them have had results anything like this. In fact, it is EASIER to man low turnout elections because your volunteers aren't working for candidates and you don't have lines waiting out the door.

7) Adding to the outrage is the thousands of City workers who had today off and could have been tapped to fill those empty positions. Instead, I bet they were out enjoying the beautiful weather, while the real workers of this city were actually working.

I guess I could go on, but will stop. First off, Doris Ann Sadler is owed a public apology. The first to offer that apology should be White herself. But Treacy should also be dragged from whatever hole he is living in to do the same. Second, the Democrat party - led by Mike O'Conner and Bart Peterson - should apologize to the general public. Third, White should resign - and Democrats, if they had one shred of dignity or one ounce of honor, would be leading the call for that resignation. Fourth, the media ought to shine a bright spotlight on the political machinery and the "volunteers" who failed the voters of this City. Yes, there are probably some Republicans to blame, too. But maybe this disaster can serve as the call that has been needed to move these elections out of the hands of political organizations. Let the political parties run campaigns and let the Clerk take full and exclusive responsibility for filling polling sites. City workers should be tapped first for those roles - and if they don't want to work at the polls, then they should not have the day off.

Yes, I am outraged. Party affiliations should not matter one bit. This was an absolute and unexcusable disaster. Beth White may be a very nice person - I don't actually know her - but she has NO business serving as our Clerk.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a good day. I worked at a polling place where there were four precincts. Not one had the proper opening hardware for their computers until 1-1:30 p.m. No voters were turned away, but it was inexcusable.

I'm sure Beth will hyper-analyze this and get it fixed, tho. That's her style.

That being said, I'm sure she understands the criticism that will come her way, and she won't duck it. Nor should she.

But before the high horse gallops off into the sunset, let's remind ourselves of one thing: what made Democrats mad, and should've made taxpayers furious, was that Doris Ann repeatedly took on overtly partisan court cases, on behalf of all County voters and taxpayers, which were losers out of the gate. Each case was all about bitterly partisan control, and each case lost miserably. The positions she/Election Board took were indefensible. And it cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As for running good elections: people are apathetic, in both parties. Until we reduce the number of precincts, and make voting generally easier (which leaves Rokita out of the picture)that apathy will not improve.

With apathy comes difficulty in staffing polls--on both sides of the aisle.

This is a crisis that won't go away easily. In fairness, I thought Doris Ann did this piece of the election puzzle relatively well.

No elected clerk wants to screw it up.

But this much I know: in every way, our incumbent clerk will not embarrass us and spend us into the poorhouse defending stupid power-grabbing moves. Her overriding concentration on the voting arena, will be and should be preservation of voter intent.

And higher voter turnout.

Anonymous said...

8:00 do you feel the same way about your mayor? He refused to handle the reduction of precincts in 2005. The reduction was requested by Doris Anne. If the mayor would have acted back in 2005, the reduction would have saved over $300,000 per election year. That is a bigger savings than Doris Anne spent on any litigation. Put your money where your mouth is.

Anonymous said...

8:00 pm is that whacko Wilson defending an unmitigated disaster brought on by the new Democrat machine in the county Everyone saw this coming in Decatur Township on election night in November. White should, but wont, resign. Treacey sued the pants of Sadler, too, point the finger in his direction. One man, one vote, my ass. All talk, no action. Can you imagine how White is handling all the records of the county courts? My God!

Anonymous said...

Relax, 9:30. Ms. White is an attorney. I have seen her office's handling of court filings. It's professional. And Ed Treacy, who is a complete goof, filed no lawsuit against the former clerk. The party did initiate appeals of ridiculous decisions of the Marion County Election Board, which were successful. But those lawsuits cost the county big-time in legal fees, all unnecessary, because the Republicans' attempts to hold onto pwoer have dominated the clerk's office for three decades.

Remember the council districting lawsuit four years ago? Initiated by Ms. Sadler and the Election Board's ridiculous actions? Decided by good 'ole Judge Bradford? Whose brother was on the ballot? And the same case that was promptly overturned, with a stern rebuke of the judge's presiding?

Remember how the Nov. 2003 municipal elections were so complicated, it took 45 days to determine who won control of the council?

There's enough blame to go around, and Ms. White has accepted hers. Doris Ann never did. She held to the (outdated) party line.

For the record, 9:14, I believe the precinct-reduction effort was coupled with some other uunacceptable provisions. But I honestly can't remember.

900-plus precincts in Marion Co. is nuts. There's just too much apathy these days, in both parties, to fully staff that many precincts. Cut it down to 300-400, open up voting to weekends, and encourage voters to use other methods of voting. There are ample experiments and actual cases of alternative voting, to study nationwide.

I give Beth White a lot of credit. She made no excuses. She stood up and took the bricks.

My bet is it will be fixed by November.

Resign? Get a grip. Judge Bradford never resigned, and he reuld on a case where familial ties were plain.

Anonymous said...

>I give Beth White a lot of credit. She made no excuses. She stood up and took the bricks.

It's kind of silly to give someone credit for doing something that they had no choice to do. If she had not taken blame, then everyone in this City, except for the few hard-core Democrat partisans, would have been calling for her resignation. She is not a newby to politics, so I am sure she had figured this out.

This was an absolute top-to-bottom failure, not just a few mistakes that can be easily corrected. And it comes at the hands of someone who arrogantly claimed she would do better and who brazenly attacked her predecessor for problems that absolutely pale in comparison.

Yes, Beth White should resign. She won't. But she should.

Anonymous said...

7:55, your party had 30 years. In that timeframe, we had multiple elections that were screwed up, including the 2003 council race, which, if the prior clerk had had her way, would've been cast on illegal ballots. No thanks to Judge Bradford, who ruled wrong even tho his brother was on the ballot. Thankfully the Appeals Court weighed in. And which, if your memory were to be correct, took 45 days or more to determine who won a council race.

Don't tell me about partisan screwups. I have two words for you: Faye Mowery. If the public knew how she screwed up elections, they'd have a fit.

Give Beth some time. It will be straightened out. She could've blamed a lot of people yesterday, and she didn't. She will make this right.

Resign? Hilarious. Under that standard Brizzi should be gone, ditto Judge Bradford.

Donna Edgar. Gimme a break. For over two decades the defacto county clerk, thus the controller of elections, has been the Republican County Chairman. Everyone knew it. Every single voter-integrity/Open Voting measure that came before the County Election Board was 2-1, Republican.

That wheezing you hear loudly is two things: 1.) the incumbent clerk acknowledging her failure and promising to regroup; and 2) the Republican machine dying, ungracefully. They'll make hay out of this; that's the way it goes in politics. They're entitled.

To all inspectors who signed up and failed to show up: a pox on your houses. Shameful.

Publish their names. The occasional family emergency arises, but responsible people, in those cases, find replacements if at all possible.

Over 150 last-minute emergencies? Riiiiiight.

Anonymous said...

>To all inspectors who signed up and failed to show up: a pox on your houses. Shameful.

Yep. And every single one of them was a Democrat. (never had this happen when they were Republicans)

And every single one of them was recruited by the Peterson/O'Connor/White "political machine" (never had this happen under the "Republican political machine")

Beth White should resign. Peterson and O'Connor should make a public apology. Missing Inspectors should have their pictures published on the front page of the Star. And idiotic Democrat apologists, excuse makers and blame shifters should just shut up.

Michael Hegg said...

On behalf of those elderly and Black voters who either were turned away or denied the right to vote, I have submitted requests to the legal teams of the NAACP and the AARP to investigate this debacle, the AARP primarily at the instigation of a friend of mine whose polling site was closed all 12 hours of the election.

Anonymous said...

Someone said...we saw this coming in Decatur Township...

Did you also see it coming that a good number of the Republican workers in Decatur Township did not show up for various reasons? One precinct opened with an inspector, a judge, and a clerk...ALL DEMOCRATS. A judge from another precinct was pulled in so that a Republican was there.

In Decatur Township, 59/60 Democrat slots were filled. All 20 precincts opened on time and all had Democrats or converted Republicans in charge. Granted, we are smaller, but it was done by using a dedicated Democrat team to find the personnel.