2023 election notebook: First wave of absentee ballots mailed, other fun tidbits

The first live ballots are now headed into the hands of voters in Bloomington’s May 2 municipal primary election.

On Thursday and Friday, absentee ballots were sent to the 28 registered voters who have requested them so far. That’s based on the absentee voter list distributed by Monroe County election division staff.

Over the next few weeks, more absentee ballots will be sent to those who qualify, as more voters request them.

The Democratic Party’s primary will almost certainly select Bloomington’s mayor, city clerk and city council for the next four years. Just one Republican, Brett Heinisch for city council District 3, has declared a candidacy this year.

The first wave of mailed absentee ballots is one of several indicators that Bloomington’s primary elections are coming up quick.

Another indicator of the fast-approaching election is next Friday’s (March 24) statutorily required logic and accuracy test of the voting equipment. It will be performed starting at 9:30 a.m. at Election Central at Madison and 7th streets.

The ballot has long been set—since Feb. 10. So the one candidate listed for the Democrats for city council District 6—David Wolfe Bender—won’t be affected by whatever action the Monroe County election board takes at its meeting next Thursday (March 23).

At next Thursday’s meeting, the election board will be continuing its investigation into Bender’s residency.  It’s not clear he actually lives in the district.

After the primary is over, if Bender were to withdraw as the Democratic Party’s nominee, the Democrats could use a caucus to choose someone else as their candidate. For either party to “caucus in” a candidate who was not on the primary ballot, the deadline is July 3.

Next week includes a few candidate forums.

The regular meeting of the Monroe County Democrats’ Club on Tuesday, March 21 at Aver’s Public House  is the backdrop of a forum for at-large city council candidates. That same evening, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is hosting an event for city council candidates.

On Wednesday (March 22) at noon, the Bloomington Press Club is hosting an event for mayoral candidates on the IU campus.

The League of Women Voters has set up a list of candidate forums on its website.

The absentee voter list that will now be released daily by the Monroe County election office can be used by campaigns to reach out to those voters who’ve now got a ballot in their hands.

That campaign outreach is typically done by mail—because if someone is known to be in possession of an absentee ballot, it’s against state election law to electioneer in their presence.

Electioneering is defined under Indiana election law as “making a verbal statement, displaying a written statement indicating support or opposition to a candidate, political party, or public question appearing on the ballot…” Electioneering also includes wearing or displaying an article of clothing, sign, button, or placard that states support for or opposition to a candidate.

The Monroe County election website has detailed information about how to apply for an mailed absentee ballot.

Early in-person voting, at the voting operations center at 3rd and Walnut streets, starts April 4.

Your voter registration, voting location, and the names you’ll see on your ballot can be confirmed on the Indiana voter information portal.