Clerk White Statement Regarding Failed Vote on Satellite Resolution
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For Immediate Release
Monday, September 13, 2010

Media Contact
Angie Nussmeyer, (317) 327-5099

Clerk White’s statement regarding today’s
failed vote on the Satellite Voting Resolution

INDIANAPOLIS – Marion County Clerk Beth White issued the following statement after the satellite voting resolution failed to pass at this morning’s Election Board meeting by a 2-1 vote: 

“I want to take a few moments to put the significance of today's vote in perspective and to give context to what can only be fairly described as a step backward in Marion County in promoting the right to vote. 

“As everyone knows by now, it takes a unanimous and bipartisan vote of all three members of the Marion County Election Board to authorize early voting at satellite facilities. The Marion County Republican Party withdrew its support for satellite voting in the spring for the Primary Election, which was unfortunate. The reasons the Republican Party put forward were – in the words of one news editorial published just this morning: "not convincing." But nonetheless, I and the Election Board staff took them seriously and have spent the past four months working to make clear that there is no legitimate reason to withhold support for satellite voting for the General Election this fall. 

            “To recap those efforts: 

1.    We prepared a 60-slide PowerPoint presentation describing the background, legal authority, operations, and protocols for satellite voting. We also hit head on criticisms leveled by the Republican Party with respect to administration of prior elections.

2.    When the Republican Party said that the hour-long public presentation did not satisfy it, we produced a written compendium of all the rules and procedures involved in satellite voting.

3.    We asked for, and got, a community conversation on the issue of satellite voting. Nearly 800 people signed an on-line petition in favor of satellite voting.

4.    We held a public hearing in which 27 out 28 speakers spoke in favor of satellite voting – the only dissenting voice was MC Republican Party Chair Tom John. Among the speakers, we heard from those who argue that for many voters, early voting at satellite facilities may represent the only real chance they have to vote.

5.    The opinions and editorials of our community's media institutions unanimously support satellite voting.

6.    And the Libertarian Party has weighed in recently providing a statement to this Board in support of satellite voting. 

“Yet against that backdrop that reasonably calls for only one course of action, the Marion County Republican Party has again has voted "no." I want to leave the voters and residents of Marion County with three points in response.  

“First, I want to say out loud we all know. The Republicans' objections are not based on real concerns about the process of satellite voting. Rather, their objections are based on politics – specifically, their apparent view that promoting easier access to voting may hurt their candidates in the election this year. And with due respect to Mr. Dietrick, who has been a good member of this Board, this political decision has been made by his party leadership. Marion County Republican Chair Tom John and Mayor Greg Ballard used to be clear and vigorous supporters of satellite voting – but now they are not, for purely political reasons. 

“Second, I want to put the significance of the Republicans' "no" vote in perspective. Now, I understand that the Chair and Vice Chair of the election board are political appointees from the major political parties. Because of that, under our system, Mayor Ballard and Tom John as the leadership of the Republican Party naturally bring political considerations to bear on questions like satellite voting. But there is a point at which politics must yield to a shared sense of American values. And let's be clear, the decision of the Marion County Republican party and its leadership to kill satellite voting speaks to the worst of political impulses that will sacrifice the most important of all American values exemplified by the right to vote in exchange for perceived short-term political gain. For that cynicism, they will have to be held accountable. 

“Finally, I want everyone to know that I will not stop fighting for satellite facilities and other flexible options that promote the right to vote, that make access to voting easier, and that enhance free and fair elections in our community. And I ask those who are like-minded in that cause to keep working toward those ends.” 

At this morning’s meeting, the Board considered Resolution 5-10 that would open three satellite voting locations for November’s election – St. Monica’s Catholic Church (northwest), Beech Grove City Schools Technology Center (south) and the Devington Community Plaza (northeast). These sites were geographically balanced and in areas with high population concentrations, creating a triangle around the county. The proposed sites were to be open the weekends of October 23/24 and October 30/31 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from October 25 to October 29. The Beech Grove and Devington sites were both used as satellite voting locations in 2009 and as such, unanimously supported by the bi-partisan Board. 

In 2008, the Election Board unanimously approved two satellite voting locations – J. Everett Light Career Center and the Southport Town Hall. These two sites were open for 11 days, where 38,957 voters opted to use one of the two satellite locations. In the same election, 34,622 voters chose to vote at the City-County Building over a 29 day period.  In 2009, the Board unanimously approved three satellite voting locations – Devington Plaza, Beech Grove City Schools Technology Center and the HealthPlex. These sites opened for nine days and 3,365 early voters visited one of these sites, while the City-County Building saw 1,800 voters.

 

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