Saturday, November 01, 2008

Marion County Absentee Ballot Confusion

There has been a great deal of confusion over the lawsuit Marion County Republicans filed against the Marion Co. Election Board this week, Schoettle v. Marion Co. Election Board, in which Circuit Court Judge Ted Sosin had to order the county to follow the law and not process provisional ballots into the voting systems at polling places on election day, thereby commingling them with otherwise validly cast votes. This confusion arose during the election training Marion Co. Clerk Beth White's office put on for election day inspectors, judges and clerks last weekend. I attended the training for judges and can personally attest to the confusion created by White's training video.

Much time was spent in the video explaining how to set up the voting equipment at the opening of the polling place, but the training glossed over important matters, such as the division of labor among precinct workers during the election day and the counting of absentee ballots delivered to the polling place during the day. White's training video left workers with the impression all absentee ballots were to be fed into the optical scanner, including challenged absentee votes. In the case of challenged absentee votes, they are to be segregated with other provisional ballots cast during the election day and returned to the county election board, which will later determine whether to count provisional ballots. If White's video instruction had been followed, it would have been impossible to discern provisional ballots from the valid ballots. Whether White's instruction on the processing of provisional ballots was intentional or due to error is subject to debate.

With the large number of voters casting early in-person or mail-in absentee votes, it is anticipated there will be some voters who will show up again on election day to cast votes. If a person's absentee ballot has already been processed by precinct workers when the voter appears in person, the voter is not allowed to vote in person. If the voter's absentee ballot has not yet been processed, the voter may have his absentee ballot opened and allowed to deposit the ballot in the voting machine, or the person may choose to cast a new ballot in person. In the case of the latter, the absentee ballot cast by the voter must be set aside as a defective ballot and marked "UNOPEN BECAUSE VOTER APPEARED AND VOTED IN PERSON."

An important note on the Voter ID requirement. The voter under Indiana law must present a government-issued photo identification which carries an expiration date. The ID presented by the voter is acceptable, even if it has already expired, as long as the expiration date shown on the ID is not more than two years prior to the date of the election.


artfuggins said...

The only confusion is the lawasuit filed by an appointee of Mitch Daniels in an attempt to suppress the vote.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Those are the Ed Treacy/Andy Jaoobs talking points--two people who have engaged in more obfuscation and misrepresentation in local politics than just about any other politico. Having the county elections board rather than the local precinct boards making calls on the validity of provisional ballots does not equate to suppressing votes. Try again.

Paul K. Ogden said...

That whole "suppression of the vote" argument is pure demagoguery. Democrats launch it at every opportunity Republicans make to insist that the election be fair.

I'm sure "Artfuggins" knows what real suppression of the vote is since it was exclusively the Democrat Party that for years suppressed black vote in the South