Clerk White calls on Election Board to come together to support satellite early voting this fall
INDIANAPOLIS – This morning Clerk White called on the members of the bi-partisan Election Board to work together and reach an agreement to open satellite early voting locations for November’s general election.
At Clerk White’s request, the Director of Elections gave a presentation outlining satellite voting procedures – from early planning stages through Election Day – in an effort to build bi-partisan support for satellite voting. State law requires unanimous support of the Election Board to open satellite early voting locations. (Attached is a copy of today’s presentation, which is also available online at www.indy.gov/election.)
The next Election Board meeting is Tuesday, August 17 at 10 a.m. in room 260 of the City-County Building. At this meeting, Board members and other stakeholders will be invited to offer feedback on today’s presentation and provide public testimony. An online petition is also available at www.indy.gov/election.
Below is Clerk White’s statement from today’s meeting in support of satellite voting:
“It has been said that satellite voting can ‘take some of the stress off the system’ and ‘would make it easier for voters.’ Now I agree with those two sentiments, but they weren’t mine originally – they were Marion County Republican Chairman Tom John’s from May 15, 2007.
“After much deliberation and discussion as to the site selection, staffing needs and security protocol, the Election Board ultimately reached a unanimous agreement and opened two satellite early voting sites for the 2008 presidential election. Mayor Greg Ballard visited the Southport site in October 2008 and said, ‘Early voting centers are a great way for voters to vote at their convenience. It is an option every voter should consider. It’s a win for the voters and a win for Marion County.’
“This Board again reached consensus not only to open but to expand satellite early voting sites from two to three for our county’s special election in 2009. We could not reach consensus to open satellite sites in the May 2010 primary. However, after hearing Ms. Judkins’ presentation, I am convinced satellite voting has been and will continue to be carried out in a procedurally sound way with appropriate ballot security and I will continue to fight for it. Now I’d like to make three points in support of satellite voting in the context of today’s presentation.
“First, as illustrated by Chairman John’s 2007 statement, the Republican Party has been in favor of satellite voting until now. Indeed, the Marion County Republican Party and Chairman John deserve credit for pushing satellite voting as part of the bi-partisan Satellite Voting Advisory Committee in 2007. It was the right thing then and it is the right thing now. The Republican and Democratic parties came together to support two reforms as a package – satellite voting and the reduction in the number of voting precincts from 917 to 590. Both of those reforms have benefitted voters in Marion County. Subsequently the Republican member of the Marion County Election Board voted for satellite voting in 2008 and 2009.
“Second, the settlement of the absentee ballot lawsuit between the Election Board and the major political parties late last year demonstrates that the Marion County Republican Party has not been concerned about any purported procedural or security issues for in-person early voting at satellite facilities. The Republicans made clear in that lawsuit and in the settlement that they were only concerned about mail-in absentee ballots, not in-person early voted ballots. That is because, as we have just discussed, satellite facility ballots are administered by bi-partisan clerks and commissioners at every step of the process – and the Republican Party was satisfied with these procedures for satellite facility ballots. Now all of the sudden they have concerns.
“Third, the only reasonable conclusion to draw from this history is that the real reason behind the Marion County Republican Party’s current opposition is politics. Now, they will say that things have changed since Tom John’s public statement in 2007 and since they unanimously approved satellite voting in 2008 and 2009 – and they will cast aspersions on me and on the process. But to paraphrase a well worn statement: ‘when they say it ain’t about politics, my friend, it’s about politics.’
“The Republican Party has apparently decided that increased options for voting – specifically satellite voting – could hurt their candidates. I don’t know if that is true – and I don’t particularly care. Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians and persons who don’t identify themselves with a political party ought to be able to have the option of satellite voting in 2010 and beyond just as they had in 2008 and 2009.
“Today I call on both the Republican and Democratic parties to come together and work together as they done in the past to approve satellite voting for the 2010 general election. That will require the Vice Chairman and the Chairman to vote yes on the satellite voting resolution this fall. I have a great deal of respect for the Vice Chairman. I have enjoyed working with him. We have worked together for the benefit of the voters for two years now. We can do that again.
In some ways, the easiest thing for me to do would be to let the political parties fight it out and stay out of the fray. But the voters of Marion County elected me to fight the hard fight on their behalf and I feel strongly that satellites are a good option for Marion County voters. I will continue to fight for satellite voting because it is a convenient, flexible option for many voters; voters clearly like it, want it, have used it and will continue to use it; and if it permits some voters to vote who might not otherwise be able, then it is the right thing to do – and it is hard to understand any valid argument against it.”
For more Marion County election information, visit www.indy.gov/election or call (317) 327-VOTE.
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