Monday, November 20, 2006

Now Mayor Peterson Supports Election Reform

We saw today what is becoming a pattern on the part of Marion County Democrats. If a Republican proposes a change, oppose it regardless of the merit in the change. If a Democrat proposes the same change, embrace it wholeheartedly. That's what it looked like today when County Clerk-elect Beth White proposed a serious of election reforms.

White proposed reducing the number of precincts in Marion County by one-third, reducing the number from 914 to about 600. It's a good idea, but when Republican County Clerk Doris Ann Sadler proposed the same idea two years ago, Mayor Peterson refused to implement the change. White, who has been a deputy mayor and the administration's point person on election issues, had no good explanation for Peterson's lack of support in the past. We're only supposed to consider the fact that he now supports it because she's going to be running the office.

White also plans to increase training for poll workers, seek state legislation which would permit all absentee ballots which are sent by election day to be counted and to hold election equipment vendors responsible for equipment failure. White's ideas are all well and good. It's just too bad that Democrats are so blatantly partisan that they do everything possible to block Republican officeholders' ideas like they did earlier this year with respect to Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's suggestions for relieving jail over-crowding and as they did with Sadler's suggestions two years ago. And the same applies to Republican councilors who vote against government consolidation, a Republican brainchild of former Mayor Richard Lugar (R), simply because it's now being pushed by a Democratic mayor.

White had better start taking a hard look at Marion County's election vendor, ES&S. Not only did the company have problems with its machines in Indianapolis once again, but elsewhere, their problems were worse. In a hotly contested Florida congressional race to choose Rep. Kathryn Harris' (R) successor, ES&S voting machines in Sarasota County may have failed to count the votes of one in six voters, unless we're to belive that nearly 18,000 voters simply skipped the congressional race on the ballot. These were touch-screen machines which provide no paper trail in the event of a recount. These voters are simply disenfranchised because of ES&S's malfunctioning equipment. We can't afford to have this happen here.


Anonymous said...

I think the clerk's call two years ago was for completely redrawing precincts, which is more difficult. I beleive Ms. White's idea is to combine polling places, but I could be wrong.

I think she also plans to ask for studies on early voting, which would be a godsend.

You're off the mark, AI, on the election law politicking. But you're dead-on with regard to the Brizzi jail overcrowding rebuff. It was shameful and blatantly political. Juice, indeed.

The ES&S vendor really can't be changed now without a huge pricetag. They never should've been chosen in the first place.

Making the best out of a bad situation is really our only choice.

The best news about your post: I had forgotten the Ms. Harris is history. What a complete moron. Thanks to her, there are still about 14,000 2000 votes in Broward County that were never counted.

Oh well.

Wilson46201 said...

Just after the 2000 Census results came out, the Mayor's crew tried to effect a rational precinct consolidation - Phil Bayt drew up the proposed maps - the local GOP bristled and suspected skullduggery or something and blocked it totally. The drive was to consolidate precincts before the reapportionment process (which draws up electoral districts) would start. Center Township had been very quick to redraw our districts but we then redrew them to conform to the new expected precincts - those new precincts got shot down by the GOP. The proposed precincts were simply consolidations of existing precincts in Center - out in the doughnut newly-densely populated precincts were split up (cornfields had been replaced by apartment complexes).

Wilson46201 said...

Consolidating voting places is trivial as long as the voting place is within 1/2 mile of a boundary of a precinct. However, each precinct must still vote separately with its own separate crew. As I recall, the Childrens Museum has 5 precincts voting there already but each precinct has its own machines and staff. Maybe some rent would be saved by consolidating voting addresses but the real expense is in the election day staffing. About 300 precincts need to be eliminated by combining them with another. My own precinct 2-1 used to be 2-1 and 2-5 until 1991 or so...

Jeff Newman said...

"If a Republican proposes a change, oppose it regardless of the merit in the change. If a Democrat proposes the same change, embrace it wholeheartedly."

Couldn't you switch the parties and it would also be a true statement? I think this is what people are truly disgusted with these days (I know I am).

It seems ideas and proposals can never be judged on their own merits. If the other side proposed it, well, we have to oppose it. One party is as guilty as the other of having this attitude.

I'd like to thing this past election was a referendum on this partisan bullshit, but I'm not hopeful we'll see much change.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Agreed, Jeff. That was the reason for my comment about the Republican councilors' opposition to the mayor's consolidation plans.

Anonymous said...

The Mayor attempted to reduce the number of precints in Marion County in 2001 or 2002 but it was blocked by Republicans on the State Election Commission.

Anonymous said...

I heard Beth White on Abdul's radio show this morning, re-tell the Mayor's 2000-01 attempt at precinct reform. Apparently the 2-1 Republican local election board, as well as the state election commission, which is evenly divided, saw evil in the mayor's plan, and could not muster a concensus.

Ever since I arrived in Marion County almost 35 years ago, Republicans have done almost anything possible to control the election process and subdue the vote. It's just a fact.

Slowly, but surely, the tide is turning. I hope the Democrats resist the long-held temptation for paybacks, and take the high road.

She also indicated the incumbent clerk's call for reform in 2004-5 was just that: a call, with no action plan accompanying it.

Wilson's post about each precinct having to have its own staff may not be correct. I'm told the lawyers are researching that. Lord help us. (Just kidding, Gary)

At my poll place, four precincts vote. The lines wouldn't be any longer if five or six voted there, and they would not need more staff, unless statutorily required.

Anonymous said...

"Democrats resist the long-held temptation for paybacks"

You mean dead voters voting Democrat isn't payback enough?

Anonymous said...

Hilarious, 11:52. Just hilarious.

Believe me, it doesn't happen.

Or we'd have kicked the Republicans' ass out of the City County Building long before this.

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