Marion County Clerk Beth White Urges Governor to Veto Senate Bill 621
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​Friday, April 26, 2013


Media Contact:

​Angie Nussmeyer, (317) 327-5099
Marion County Clerk Beth White Urges
Governor to Veto Senate Bill 621 


INDIANAPOLIS – Today Marion County Clerk Beth White mailed a letter to Indiana Governor Mike Pence urging him to veto Senate Bill 621, legislation that will negatively impact Indianapolis taxpayers and voters if implemented.
 
The full text of the letter is below:
 
Governor Pence:
 
As the chief election official of the 12th largest city in America, I respectfully request that you veto Senate Bill 621, a piece of legislation that not only consolidates power in the chief executive and removes elected representation from the people of Marion County but also erodes local control of elections in our community. I testified at every opportunity about my concerns with the bill, and ask that you consider our perspective before making a decision.
 
Senate Bill 621 takes away the authority of the Marion County Election Board to decide how to manage elections as it requires only our county to centrally count its absentee ballots. However, Indiana’s other 91 counties can continue to decide to send ballots out to the voter’s precinct or count at one central site. While we traditionally have counted absentee ballots at the precincts, the Election Board has used the flexibility currently permitted in state law to make adjustments in our processes depending on the election. 
 
There are simply too many absentee ballots to count them all centrally in Marion County. In the 2008 presidential election, more than 93,000 absentee ballots were processed by nearly 3,000 poll workers using voting equipment at the county’s 590 precincts. The next largest number of absentee ballots counted in a county (Tippecanoe) was 37,134 or about 40% of our volume.
 
You should also know that our current voting equipment is not compatible with a central count of absentees. Selected by a Republican Clerk in 2002, our optical scan ballot readers can only tabulate results one precinct at a time, not a workable solution given the volume of absentee ballots we receive. In fact, a central count of absentee ballots was performed in the 2003 municipal election where it took the former Clerk, her staff and political party representatives more than 2 days to count about 8,800 absentee ballots. 
 
Counting absentees at the precinct also prevents duplication of personnel, as party-appointed precinct poll workers currently receive and process ballots during the 12-hour voting day along with their other Election Day responsibilities. Senate Bill 621 forces the two major political parties to recruit hundreds of additional commissioners to process and count absentee ballots in addition to the thousands of individuals the parties must recruit to work the polls on Election Day or serve in other ways.  This means the county needs to pay for more personnel, and those workers will be expected to work longer hours than our poll workers in an effort to tabulate results in a timely way.
 
Contrary to Senator Mike Young’s message, this bill is not “good policy.” Good policy comes from listening to those most directly impacted and considering all viewpoints before making a decision. I’m afraid that did not happen with Senate Bill 621, and on behalf of the taxpayers and voters of Marion County, I urge you to veto this bad legislation. 
 
Respectfully,
Elizabeth L. White
Marion County Clerk
Secretary, Marion County Election Board
 
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