Voting Process A Key Issue In Monroe Co. Commissioner Forum

Democrat Julie Thomas and Republican Nelson Shaffer expressed differing views on voting procedures and voter ID laws at a candidate forum.

shaffer and Thomas

Photo: Alexandra Dierckman/WFIU-WTIU News

Nelson Shaffer (left) and Julia Thomas debate during a League of Women Voters forum.

Voting procedures was a reoccurring theme of the Monroe County commissioner candidate forum hosted Tuesday by the League of Women Voters.

Democratic Bloomington City Councilwoman Julie Thomas and Republican Nelson Shaffer faced off at the forum, discussing their views on a range of issues relating to the voting process. One question multiple audience members brought up was how the candidate would increase voting and keep it fair and secure.

Shaffer said he thinks every voter should have a photo ID.

“There is discussion that especially the Democrats think that’s a hard job to do, but you can’t buy cigarettes, you can’t get a check cashed, you can’t drive without some sort of ID,” he said. “Most everybody has one. I think that even if you don’t have one, there are provisions to get you an ID.”

Thomas points out that state law does currently require voters to have a photo ID, but she says she is not sure that is the best thing.

“Obviously if we have people who are elderly, and they cannot get their ID’s done because they no longer have a birth certificate. They don’t drive anymore. This can be a real problem,” Thomas said. “But it’s interesting because somebody could walk into the polls, and the poll workers all know who they are because this guy votes at every election, but now he doesn’t have a photo ID.

Thomas did not offer any concrete ideas but said there has to be a way to make sure voting is secure while still making it accessible.

On voting centers, Shaffer says he supports the county’s current precinct system. Thomas meanwhile says adding voting centers would be a good thing because it would make voting more convenient.

Thomas did not seek a second term on the city council so she could pursue the county commission seat held by Mark Stoops, who is running for state senate in District 40. Shaffer does not have any political experience but says he has served in a number of civic groups and scientific organizations.

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