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Vigo County Schools Won't Bus Students To Polls

The Vigo County School Board did not take action on a proposal to bus students to their polling places at Monday night's meeting (Barbara Brosher, WFIU/WTIU News).

The Vigo County School Corporation will not bus students to polling places for next month’s primary.

The school board previously considered doing so, but decided not to take action at its meeting Monday night after receiving feedback from community members.

Norm Loudermilk is running in the Democratic primary for state representative. He says busing students to the polls could give one candidate, who’s a teacher in the corporation, an unfair advantage.

"In my race alone there’s a lot of good candidates," Loudermilk says. "And, we just want to have a fair playing field."

But several members of the community encouraged the school board to reconsider transporting students to the polls in the future.

Donna Williams is a member of Citizens For A Better Government In Vigo County. She says local organizations are doing what they can to get young people engaged in voting, and they want to see the school corporation involved.

"We are not proud that Vigo County has the third lowest voter turnout in the state and have worked on many strategies to improve that outcome for the elderly and disabled, in addition to student voting," Williams says.

Local businessman Craig Ketner previously offered to cover costs of busing students to the polls. He didn't attend Monday's meeting, but sent a $500 check to be donated to the corporation's backpack program.

"The reason for this check is not simply because the backpack program is an outstanding effort to provide for those who would otherwise go without, it is because of my personal passion and belief in seeing that all efforts will be made to promote our civic duty of voting," Ketner wrote in a letter to the board.

Ketner wrote that he's disappointed that some questioned the motivation of the proposal. He insists people in the community just want to see young people exercising their rights.

School corporation officials say just under 30 students expressed interest in taking a bus to the polls for the primary. The school board is hoping a local organization, like the League of Women Voters, will offer them transportation.

Superintendent Danny Tanoos says he’ll also work with his staff to find a way to get interested students to the polls without providing busing.

"If that means us coming up with a plan to get transportation after school for those who can’t be transported, or providing them opportunities for absentee voting at school, or getting them to the polls that are open later, then we’ll do all we can to ensure they get their chance to vote," he says.

The school corporation previously had polling locations within some of its schools, but did away with them because of security concerns.

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