Election update: Voting machine accuracy test passed; Poll workers still needed; Registration deadline Oct. 5

At 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Monroe County’s election division started running its voting equipment through the logic and accuracy test that’s required under state statute.

After two hours of testing, the county’s equipment passed with a 100-percent score, deputy county clerk Tressia Martin told The Square Beacon.

The tests were conducted at the old Johnson Hardware Building, aka Election Central, at 7th and Madison streets. The blinds on the Madison Street side of the building were opened so that the public could watch, without going inside the building. It’s was a nod to helping prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic virus.

The completion of the accuracy test crosses one more task off the list that election staff have to complete for the Nov. 3, 2020 general election.

In early September, the board of elections had settled on 28 different polling locations for the county’s 82 precincts.  That decision was given approval by the county’s board of commissioners at its regular meeting Wednesday morning, shortly after the logic and accuracy test concluded.

Poll workers are still needed from both parties.  Earlier reports were that a sufficient number of Democratic Party poll workers had stepped forward, but election staffer Sherry Morris said at Tuesday’s meeting of the election board that poll workers are still needed from both parties. Several of the tasks related to handling ballots require “an R and a D” to be present.

Martin told the commissioners that around 9,000 ballots had already been mailed out to voters who have requested them. That compares to about 17,000 voters who cast a ballot by mail in the June 2 primary. A big difference between the general election and the primary is that the state’s election commission allowed for no-excuse absentee voting in the primary, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission left the standard reasons in place for the general election.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the county commissioners, Lee Jones encouraged voters who are eligible to vote absentee to request a ballot as soon as possible. Jones also encouraged voters who are voting absentee by mail to send the ballot back as early as possible.

When the election date gets closer, voters are being encouraged to hand-deliver their absentee ballots to Election Central, instead of relying on timely delivery by USPS. Martin said voters won’t be able to use the mail slot in the door at Election Centra to hand in their ballot after hours—it’s been taped over, because maintaining a drop box is against the law.

Martin reported that the election division is starting to receive ballots from voters who have sent them in. Those ballots have to stay in their sealed envelopes until election day.

Early voting, which will take place only at Election Central, starts at 8 a.m. on Oct. 6.

The deadline for registration is Oct. 5. Voters can register, confirm their registration, and find their voting location using online tools at IndianaVoters.com. Monroe County’s Election Central website also has an official list of polling locations.

Some online tools for finding your polling location require knowing your precinct. One way to match your address to the correct precinct is to use Monroe County’s interactive precinct map.

According to Martin, the logic and accuracy test is based on a test deck of 13 ballots. Out of the 50 scanners the county uses, three are selected at random for the test. The deck is run though all three scanners and the results produced by the scanner are checked against the key.

The same routine is used for three touch writers, which are the devices that make voting accessible for people who can’t use a pen to mark a paper ballot. The writers prints off a paper ballot resembling other ballots.

At their Tuesday meeting, election board members discussed the capacity of Election Central for early voting. The newly renovated space at Election Central, would allow the placement of eight voting tables, two voters to a table. That means about 16 voters at a time. Each voter might take about three minutes to vote.

Board chair Hal Turner figured that would mean no appreciable lines at Election Central for early voting.