Provisional ballots decided, no change in outcomes, Bloomington primary elections finally over

Monroe County election board members David Henry (Democratic Party appointee) and Nicole Browne (Monroe County clerk) review provisional ballots. Seated at right is the new county election supervisor, Jessica Brown. (May 12, 2023)

The tallies for the May 2 primary elections are now final, after Monroe County’s election board voted on Friday to accept the votes from three additional, provisional ballots.

No outcomes were even close to being changed from the initial results—because there were a total of just 13 provisional ballots.

Provisional ballots are set aside, for various reasons—like a failure to show adequate ID, lack of voter registration, or trying to vote in the wrong polling location. Setting ballots aside means they’re not a part of the initial election vote totals, but could be added after their eventual adjudication by the election board.

Provisional ballots are adjudicated 10 days after the election. On Friday, 10 provisional ballots were rejected by the Monroe County election board.

One of the provisional ballots was accepted, even though the voter had applied to change their voter registration to a new address after the April 3 deadline. The ballot was counted, because the voter had moved inside the city limits and in the same precinct.

The other two accepted ballots had been set aside as provisional due to mismatching signatures on mailed-in absentee ballots.

Election board member and Monroe County clerk Nicole Browne said that oftentimes married couples will by mistake sign each other’s ballots, which get flagged as not matching the signatures that are on file with the election division. But when that happens, the voters are notified, and given a chance to come in to “cure” the ballot.

The two voters did come to Election Central, in the old Johnson’s Hardware building at 7th and Madison, streets to correct the signatures—so their ballots were counted.

On Friday, the adjudication of the provisional ballots was done at Election Central, not the election board’s usual meeting location in the Nat U. Hill Room at the county courthouse, in order to eliminate the need to transport ballots out of Election Central, where they are stored.

Attending the provisional ballot adjudication was League of Women Voters (LWV) spokesperson Debora (Ralf) Shaw. After the election board’s work was done, Shaw confirmed with Browne that five of the 13 provisional ballots had been set aside and eventually rejected by the board, because the voter was trying to vote at the wrong polling site, even though they were registered to vote.

Shaw said that she sees this as an argument for vote centers. Hoosier counties are allowed to adopt “vote centers” where any voter can cast a ballot, instead of using a system where only voters from a limited set of precincts can vote. Browne noted that to adopt vote centers, a unanimous vote of the three-member election board would be required.

In addition to the county clerk, each major party appoints a member to the election board. On Friday, the Democratic Party’s appointee, David Henry, attended, but GOP appointee Donovan Garletts did not. Browne and Henry still counted as a quorum to review the provisional ballots.

As a result of Friday’s election board work, the final totals changed just a smidgen. In the Bloomington mayoral race, Susan Sandberg picked up two votes and Don Griffin picked up one, but that left Kerry Thomson as the clear winner of the Democratic Party’s mayoral nomination.

Nicole Bolden picked up another two votes in her unchallenged race for Bloomington city clerk. Ron Smith picked up two votes in the District 3 Bloomington city council race, but that still left Hopi Stosberg as the clear winner.

In the at-large Bloomington city council race, Andy Ruff, Lois Sabo-Skelton, and Steve Volan each picked up two votes. Also in the at-large city council race, Isak Asare, Jonas Schrodt, and Ryne Shadday each picked up another vote. That left Asare, Ruff, and Matt Flaherty as the top vote getters in the pick-up-to-three race.

5 thoughts on “Provisional ballots decided, no change in outcomes, Bloomington primary elections finally over

  1. For the voters attempting to vote at the wrong polling site, why weren’t they directed to the correct polling site?

    1. Hi Sue! They are, of course, provided with information about where they are supposed to vote. But sometimes there’s not time for them to cover the distance to the correct polling site, or they just don’t want to go someplace else. And they choose to vote a provisional ballot, even when fully informed.

      1. Thanks. I hope they were able to vote in the correct polling site.

      2. Since the at large and Mayoral candidates were consistent on all ballots, would it be legal to count those for voters voting outside their polling site

  2. I agree that we need Vote Centers. We attempted that 10 or 15 years ago, but the Republican member of the Election Board voted against it.

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