For the most part, Vigo votes are all in

Tribune-Star/Austen LeakePopular Spot: Honey Creek Mall’s voting site was a common place for voters on Tuesday.

There are no missing Vigo County precincts.

Put another way, the Terre Haute and Vigo County vote totals you may have seen Tuesday night or Wednesday morning were indeed largely complete.

Some confusion arose in Vigo County as the county’s website shows both the number of voting centers that have had their ballots tallied (there are 14 total) and the number of precincts (88 total precincts are listed).

It’s the number of precincts that threw some people off, as the final update posted showed 86 of 88 precincts countywide and 50 of 51 in the city of Terre Haute.

Vigo County Election Board President Kara Anderson said 86 is actually the correct, operative number for precincts. That’s because two small precincts —one of them in the city — have become commercial and have no residents.

The two empty precincts are still listed on the county’s forms because formally eliminating them so they do not show up would be a lengthy and expensive process, she said.

For the record, while Tuesday’s results are largely complete, they are not the official tally for the fall general election.

The official certification for election results in Vigo County will occur at noon Nov. 15 in the Vigo County Courthouse. At that meeting, the election board will review and certify or deny provisional ballots cast and make its final declaration of winners in each race.

The unofficial results posted to the Vigo County Clerk’s Office website at 8:04 p.m. Tuesday night show 24,091 Vigo County voters cast ballots from a total pool of 70,639 registered voters. That represents a turnout of 34.1%.

Among major races Tuesday:

• Republican incumbent Mayor Duke Bennett of Terre Haute won reelection, tallying 5,178 votes (41.76%) to independent candidate Pat Goodwin’s 4,962 votes (40.02%) and Democratic candidate Karrum Nasser’s 2,142 votes (17.28%). Another independent candidate, Shane Meehan, tallied 117 votes (0.94%).

• In the countywide referendum on whether inland casino gaming should be allowed in Vigo County, voters approved by a vote of 15,145 (63.44%) to 8,729 (36.56%).

• The Vigo County School Corp.’s request for a levy to provide additional operating funds was approved by a vote of 12,773 (54.10%) to 10,839 (45.90%).

Voter’s problem with one touch-screen

The sensitivity of a touch screen seems to be the source of one voter’s concerns on election day when he said a voting machine kept changing his vote for mayor.

Brent Kapellusch told the Tribune-Star he tried four times to select Duke Bennett on the touch screen, but the name of another candidate was highlighted each time. Using a stylus on his fifth attempt to select Bennett resolved the issue, but left Kapellusch questioning the voting process.

Kapellusch said he was voting at Memorial United Methodist Church on Poplar Street when the issue arose. He said he pointed out the problem to a poll worker but was told to keep trying because the poll workers are not allowed to look at a voter’s ballot.

“They said it happens sometimes,” Kapellusch said.

Kapellusch said he had seen news stories last year in other parts of the country about vote machines selecting a different candidate, so he thought it was worth reporting his experience to local and state election officials.

Once the machine accepted his selection of Bennett, Kapellusch said, he was able to confirm his ballot was accurate and cast his vote.

Kapellusch said he heard of another person having a similar problem with the same machine.

Anderson said Kapellusch’s complaint was the only example she coming from Tuesday’s election, but the sensitivity of touch screens is not an unheard of issue.

“This issue has arisen occasionally ever since we went to touch screens, but there are safeguards in place, and a summary sheet pops up to give the voter a chance to confirm the ballot,” she added.

In fact, a voter is asked twice to confirm on the screen if their candidate selections are correct, she said.

Anderson said each voting machine is calibrated prior to each election, but sometimes a screen can be “off” if a person touches close to, but not on, the correct spot.

“They can be off a bit if they get touched so many times, or if they peck too hard, or get too close to the next name down on the ballot,” she said.

The state election board has approved the software used in Vigo County, Anderson said.

Meanwhile, a similar touch screen issue appeared this year in Tippecanoe County, where some voters claimed the voting machines switched their choices at multiple polling places. Election officials there blamed the issue on a calibration problem.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With more than 30 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.

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