Despite message in TV ad, non-Bloomington residents can vote on 8.5-cent school referendum

Residents who live in the Monroe County Community School Corporation district (the whole purple area), but not in the city of Bloomington, can still vote in the Nov. 7 election—on the MCCSC referendum question.

All registered voters who live in the MCCSC school district will be able to vote on the school referendum question as part of the Nov. 7 “municipal election.”

That’s despite the message in a TV ad featuring Monroe County clerk Nicole Browne, which has run over the last few days on some Comcast channels like the Food Network.

The ad states incorrectly that only registered voters in the geographic boundaries of the city of Bloomington are eligible to vote in the election. The TV ad is supposed to be taken down by Saturday, Browne has told The B Square.

Voters can check their registration and preview their ballot on the Indiana Voter Portal.

The school district covers all but the northwestern corner of Monroe County, so the majority of Monroe County registered voters will be able to vote on the school referendum.

The TV advertisement was produced for a past municipal election, when eligibility was the same as for most municipal elections. In a typical municipal election, only voters who live in the geographic area of a city or town for the races on the ballot can participate in the election.

But that’s not true for the Nov. 7 municipal election—because the board of Monroe County Community School Corporation voted in June to place a referendum question on the ballot.  That means residents who live outside the city of Bloomington, but still inside the district, can vote on the MCCSC referendum, as a part of the municipal election.

Responding to a question from The B Square, co-counsel for the Indiana Election Division, Matthew Kochevar wrote: “In my experience when a municipal election along with a local public question referendum is being conducted, usually the title of the ballot does say ‘municipal election’ because that is the election that is scheduled under law to occur on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in the year before the presidential election.”

The school referendum asks voters if they support raising property taxes by 8.5 cents, to pay for early childhood education programs.

The TV advertisement with the incorrect information will be taken down starting Saturday, according to an email message from Browne to the B Square late Friday morning. When The B Square spoke with Browne early Friday morning, she had already reached out to Comcast to ask how to take down the erroneous ad.

A different advertisement, about early in-person voting, will continue to run, Browne told The B Square.

The ad on eligibility was produced, Browne said, in order to address the frustration some voters experience, when they arrive at a polling location to vote, but are told they cannot vote, because they do not live inside the city limits. There was not any malicious intent, Browne said.

Browne told The B Square that the approval of the contract for payment of the ad will go in front of the county commissioners. The commissioners have canceled their Oct. 18 meeting, which means the next chance for the commissioners to approve the ad contract will be Oct. 25.

The approval looks like it would be retroactive. According to county financial records, a payment was made on April 19, 2023 for $2,500 to Effect TV Comcast Cable for election advertising.

Ad spot that aired on the Food Network on Oct. 12, 2023

4 thoughts on “Despite message in TV ad, non-Bloomington residents can vote on 8.5-cent school referendum

  1. Wow! The key question is: When did this erroneous ad START to air? Did Nicole Browne leave it on the air for months, weeks, or days since MCCSC went public with the referendum last May 24? I’ve heard many people say that the MCCSC administration would prefer to minimize county voter turnout because it fears more “no” votes for the referendum in the county than in the city.

    And, WOW, since when do the county commissioners spend public funds before the use of those funds is publicly discussed and officially approved?

    1. I doesn’t seem to be anything intentional since it appears to be a commercial from 8 years ago. The polling sites are from then and so does the clerk. Just a very unfortunate oversight

  2. “There was not any malicious intent, Browne said.” Ladies and gentlemen, behold the difference between misfeasance and malfeasance.

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