News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 7, 2012

Vigo sees strong voter turnout for presidential election

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Vigo County saw a strong voter turnout — 52.5 percent — in Tuesday’s 2012 general election, but that total fell short of the nearly 56 percent voter turnout in the presidential election four years ago.

Of the 76,141 registered voters, 39,989 voters cast a ballot. Four years ago, 44,294 voters went to the polls.

In uncontested county races, Democrat Timothy M. Seprodi got 27,839 votes in his bid for county auditor; Democrat Nancy S. Allsup garnered 27,611 votes for county recorder; Democrat James W. (Jim) Bramble drew 27,485 votes for county treasurer; and Democrat Susan Siebenmorgen Amos got 27,858 votes for county coroner.

In the race for Vigo County School Board, incumbents Mel Burks and Jacqueline L. Lower were the winners in District 1. Lower got 21,890 votes while Burks received 17,039 votes. Larry Moses Faulkner received 10,015 votes. Incumbent Paul G. Lockhart was the lone candidate in District 3, receiving 24,519 votes.

All vote totals are unofficial until certified by the Vigo County Election Board on Nov. 16. In addition, all military ballots received by mail, postmarked no later than Nov. 6, will also be tabulated by Nov. 16.

In addition, any voter who did not have a photo ID at the polling site, and voted a provisional ballot, has until noon Nov. 16 to provide that identification to the county clerk’s office for that ballot to count.

A provisional ballot can also be issued over a registration issue. That was the case Election Day at Deming Center in precinct 5C, where about 30 provisional ballots were issued, mainly to Indiana State University students who thought they had registered in Vigo County.

Many of the students may not have changed their voter registration from their hometown, said inspector Ken Burgess. Republicans served as the poll inspectors in this election after winning the Indiana secretary of state post in 2010.

“You can’t vote here and be registered in South Bend,” said Vigo County Clerk Patricia Mansard. “In 2008, we had a problem with IDs for ISU students as they did not have an expiration date. That has been fixed, but now this year it is registrations.”

Burgess said the students were “getting the wrong information from somewhere that they can just come in vote.” he said. “They have to be registered in Vigo County. If they are registered in another county, they have to vote in that county, they cannot say they are a student at ISU so they can vote. If they have not changed their registration, it will not count. If they think they have changed their registration, they can vote a provisional ballot,” he said.

Inspector Burgess noted another misunderstanding, when several voters who had moved outside of Indiana in the past 30 days sought to cast presidential ballots. Those voters, however, still have to go back to their original precinct to vote.

Another glitch in the election process occurred Tuesday in precinct 5C, where the Vigo County Election Board removed a Republican clerk because the clerk could not read. By state law, reading is a requirement to hold that position, Mansard said.

Elsewhere on Election Day, voting officials in Lost Creek were forced to scramble after a female inspector left her inspector’s packet, with a note saying she was not going to work the poll.

Mansard said Republican Ron Fouts found the packet and reported the inspector missing. Fouts, also an inspector, got voting machines up and running in Lost Creek B, which is his precinct, and in Lost Creek D, where the inspector was not working.

“We navigated that as well as you could,” Mansard said of the staffing problem. “We had a person trained as a Republican judge who also had the inspector training who became the inspector” for Lost Creek B, Mansard said.

“We had clerks there to initial the ballots and let people vote. It is not something that you expect,” Mansard said.

Other problems included some voting machines. In precinct 3B at Franklin Elementary School and precinct 7D in Garfield Towers, each voting machine had a reader card failure. In precinct 53 at Collett Park Pavilion, a sensor failed.

All of those voting machines were swapped for new machines, Mansard said.

Voters were allowed to vote, with their ballot kept in a holding bin until the paper ballot could be sent through a working optical scan vote machine by election officials at the sites, Mansard said.

“We use a holding bin when we get a lot of absentee ballots to run through [the optical scan machine] when a polling site is busy,” Mansard added.

Indiana has required a government-issued photo identification since 2006. At least one issue with identification arose on Election Day.

Mansard said one voter at Anthony Square was told she could not vote. The voter, an ISU student, has a valid student ID, which is issued by a government agency with a photo and an expiration date. The voter appealed to the clerk’s office, which informed poll workers they should accept the ID. The student was able to cast a ballot.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.