Election board sets voting sites, ISU included

Tribune-Star/Howard GreningerBoard: Vigo County Election Board members (from left) Brad Newman, Kara Anderson and Cindy Andrews, along with Republican alternate/associate member Jerry Arnold and newly appointed Democratic alternate/associate member John A. Kesler, review documents Tuesday prior to discussion of a vote center plan.

New polling sites, including an election day site at Indiana State University, have been set under a 2018 vote center plan the Vigo County Election Board approved Tuesday.

Changes this year include the use of the Vigo County Annex as a site for absentee-in-person voting 28 days prior to the May 8 primary election and prior to the Nov. 6 general election. 

The annex will be used instead of the Vigo County Courthouse, because of the former’s parking space.

One week prior to the election in May and November, six early vote centers will be open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. for absentee voting. The vote center hours were also set in the board’s plan, which will be sent to the Indiana Election Division this week.

Election day voting is 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. under state law.

The early vote center sites are Booker T. Washington Community Center, Operating Engineers Local 841, Northside Bingo Hall near Roselawn Memorial ,West Vigo Community Center, IBEW Local 725 and Seelvyille Town Hall. Those six sites will also be open on election day.

Additional vote center sites open only on election day, in May and November, are Indiana State University, Memorial United Methodist Church, New Life Fellowship Church, New Goshen Firehouse, Wabash Valley Fairgrounds, Maryland Community Church, VFW Post No. 972, Sandcut Firehouse, American Legion Post 104, Pimento Firehouse, National Guard Armory, Vigo County Public Library, Vigo County Solid Waste Management and Prairie Creek Firehouse.

Chase Meehan, vice president of the Indiana State University Student Coalition for Social Justice, who attended several Election Board meetings, said he was concerned ISU would not get voting machines after the Vigo County Council last week did not address a proposed lease of The Meadows for equipment storage and use as a vote center.

The County Council did not unanimously vote to suspend its rules to allow discussion of a funding issue that was denied during its annual budget hearings.

“I am very ecstatic as I was worried,” Meehan said of the Election Board vote center plan. “I wasn’t sure how it would end up,” he said.

<\z186667>”A lot of people assumed this (ISU vote site) would not happen because of the way the machines needed to be distributed. I think what ended happening was it wasn’t a funding issue, but they (Election Board) just reallocated machines in different ways in order for the numbers to work out so that ISU can get three (voting machines),” Meehan said.

<\z186667>”I appreciate what (the county clerk) did, because he really listened to my input and I think that really helped,” Chase said of getting machines at ISU.

<\z186667>Now Meehan said he is planning to work to improve voter turnout.

<\z186667>”I plan on this weekend starting to go door to door to get people registered and I also will be one day a week in the (ISU) Commons registering people to vote,” Meehan said while standing in a hallway outside of a room where the Election Board met.

<\z186667>Election Board President Kara Anderson then approached Meehan, saying, “Your constructive and respectful input went a long way, I am here to tell you.” 

<\z186667>Previously, during the meeting, Anderson said, “I appreciate the members of the community who have reached out to this election board and offered input into this process in a constructive and respectful way. Their commitment to improving the voting process is to be admired and they way they have interacted with the board is greatly appreciated.”

The county annex building and one early vote center site are to be open on two Saturdays prior to the election. Anderson said it was an oversight in the plan not to list two locations open on Saturdays.

<\z186667>”We will have that online in the next few days,” Anderson said of the vote plan with voting locations and times. “We finally got all our vote centers set. We have 21 sites in place for Vigo County,” Anderson said after the meeting.

“Really the big news is we are still a very viable growing vote center county,” Anderson said, adding voter participation in early voting has been increasing. “We worked this year really hard to get six very convenient, large, early vote centers and were able to move around some of the election day vote centers.”

Anderson said discussion of a vote site on the campus of ISU has been ongoing since 2015.

“Our job as the Vigo County Election Board is to look at all of Vigo County. We’ve got more than 410 square miles that we needed to look at with budget restrictions, equipment requirements and physical logistics,” Anderson said. “Because of some of the changes that we made at the early vote centers, the six early vote centers, not counting the county annex, we were able to move some equipment around and offer an election day vote center at ISU.”

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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