Elkhart County Democrats plan for extra poll watchers on Election Day

The Elkhart County Democratic Party will likely place volunteer poll watchers at an unspecied number of precincts on Election Day to guard against any irregularities.
Posted on Oct. 3, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

Just in case, Elkhart County Democrats plan to place a few extra volunteers in scattered voting precincts on Election Day to guard against any possible miscues.

Elkhart County Democratic Party Chairwoman Shari Mellin said there were a “few problems” during the primary vote here on May 8 at some polling spots. Voting equipment wasn’t set up by the poll opening time of 6 a.m. at one precinct, she said, and electronic voting machines for the disabled weren’t set up, as required, at one or two precincts.

As is, the Republican and Democratic parties here select clerks and judges to run the voting precincts on Election Day. Still, Mellin said Democrats would likely assign the extra poll watchers to keep an additional eye on things at a few precincts, which she wouldn’t identify.

If the poll watchers encounter any problems, she said, they’d be instructed to contact Elkhart County election authorities.

Mellin also said Republican clerks in some precincts seemed to nudge voters into taking Republican ballots during last May’s primary when they showed up at polling places. The clerks incorrectly told voters, she said, that there were no contested races on the Democratic ballot.

Elkhart County Clerk Wendy Hudson, whose office oversees the election process, said the issues cited by Mellin came up and were discussed at a meeting of the Elkhart County Election Board in the aftermath of last May’s primary. She discribed them as “minor” issues that inadvertently happen at times during elections.

“It wasn’t intentional wrongdoing, it was people being people,” Hudson said. That said, during training sessions for clerks and judges later this month, the issues will be brought up and emphasized to prevent a recurrence.

Election Day is Nov. 6, though early voting starts Oct. 8. If you haven’t, you must register by Oct. 9. Here are more particulars:

Ÿ Registering: You can register at the Elkhart County Voter Registration Office at the Elkhart County Administration Building, 117 N. 2nd St., Goshen, but you have to do it by 4 p.m. on Oct. 9, the normal closing time that day.

Alternatively, an office rep says the public may register online at www.indianavoters.in.gov up until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 9. To register online, you must have an Indiana driver’s license or state ID card.

Ÿ Early voting: Early voting starts Oct. 8 at 9 a.m. and goes through Nov. 5 at the Elkhart County Administration Building, 117 N. 2nd St., Goshen, and the Elkhart County Courts Building, 315 S. 2nd St., Elkhart. A photo ID issued by the state of Indiana or the U.S. government is required to vote.

Other alternatives to voting on Election Day are casting an absentee ballot and, for those confined to their homes and unable to mark a ballot, getting the help of a traveling body that visits voters and helps them fill ballots. Call county election officials at 535-6469 for more information and applicable rules and restrictions.

In releated news, both the Democratic and Republican parties here seek more workers, who are paid, to run the polling sites on Election Day. Republicans may call Shirley Snyder at 238-5657 for more information while Democrats may call Joe Williams at 875-9440.

Training sessions are required.


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