Bloomington Chamber Calls For Election Changes

Monroe County officials acknowledge there are problems, but there is widespread disagreement about solutions.

poll workers

Photo: WFIU/WTIU News

Absentee ballots were still being counted in Monroe County several days after the General Election.

A list of public policy priorities released this week by the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce includes remodeling Monroe County’s elections.

In November’s election, Monroe County took three days to count ballots and was the last county to report its results to the Secretary of State’s office.

Public Policy Coordinator Liz Irwin says the last election was a wake-up call in terms of both efficiency and money spent.

“We understand that in the last election it was $70,000 maybe for the paper ballots themselves,” she says. “And additional resources spent for personnel in order to count for all those extra days. Is that the most efficient process? Well we’re not sure, we think that needs to be looked at.”

The Chamber hopes to avoid that fate in subsequent elections, as well as pushing for the implementation of vote centers.

Monroe County Election Board member Judith Smith-Ille has repeatedly voted against creating vote centers, but says she backs the Chamber’s plan to do away with paper balloting if possible.

In an e-mail Tuesday, Monroe County Commissioners President Iris Kiesling acknowledged the current system is flawed, but continued to push for paper ballots in what she calls the only “verifiable” way to check someone’s vote in case of a dispute.

Kiesling says she hopes state officials will add new voting systems to a short list of those which have been approved in time for the 2014 primaries.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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