ELKHART — The Elkhart County Clerk’s Office has received several complaints in the past couple of weeks about a new step poll workers are taking to avoid voter fraud before Election Day.
Eunice Worden, who lives in the Dunlap area, was taken aback last week at an early voting site in Elkhart when a poll worker asked for the last four digits of her social security number, adding that providing the information was optional.
“It caught me off guard because there has been so much on the news about voter suppression,” Worden said, adding that her daughter had a similar experience.
A change in legislation now requires poll workers to ask for social security number information, an extra measure county clerk Wendy Hudson said the government is taking to prevent voter fraud.
“We have to ask for it and tell voters it’s optional to answer, but the voters do not have to provide the information,” Hudson explained.
Still, Worden said the new rule does not make sense.
“My question is, if it didn’t make any difference whether you gave them your social security four-digit number or not, why ask,” Worden wonders.
At the polls, voters must present an identification card issued by the state of Indiana or the U.S. government that includes their name and photo. The card must be current or expired after Nov. 2, 2010. Other common forms of identification accepted at voting sites include military IDs, state school IDs and passports as long as they meet the four standards regarding identification cards.
Early voting will end on Monday at noon. The county has two early voting sites, the Elkhart County Courts Building, 315 S. Second St. in Elkhart, and the Elkhart County Administration Building, in Room 108 at 117 N. Second St. in Goshen.
Early voting is up compared to 2008, the last presidential election year.
As of the end of the day Monday, 6,635 early votes had been cast or otherwise received by Elkhart County election officials. That compares to 6,261 at the same point in 2008, according to figures from the Elkhart County Clerk’s Office.
Through Wednesday, 7,693 early ballots had been tallied, though the comparable figure for 2008 wasn’t immediately available.
In 2008, 11,356 cast early ballots in all.
Ballots cast at the early-voting sites in Elkhart and Goshen account for the largest share of early voting. Mail-in ballots are also included in the total, as well as votes collected by the board that visits homebound voters.