Election board reviews balloting, tees up hearings on electioneering charge, fine for late finance form

At its meeting on Thursday, Monroe County’s election board set its next meeting, on Feb. 4, as the time when it will hear charges of electioneering at the polls during early voting.

Screen shot of Jan. 7, 2021 Monroe County election board meeting. Election supervisor Karen Wheeler is holding up a list of incomplete registrations that she wants board members to sign.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the board reviewed candidates with delinquent campaign finance forms.

Thursday’s board meeting included a report on a survey of people who worked the polls for the 2020 elections. The survey showed mostly positive results.

The elections also heard a review during public commentary from a voter’s perspective, given by longtime poll workers Marge and Jim Faber.

Marge Faber told the board, “As a voter, I want to tell you, that was the most fantastic voting experience I’ve ever had.” She added, “And given my age, that means over 60 years worth of voting, because I’ve never missed an election.”

After suggesting some additional signage for the Arlington Elementary School location, Faber wrapped up, saying, “Otherwise, it was fantastic. I should have written you a note earlier, and I forgot.” Thursday’s board meeting marked Faber’s 88th birthday.

At Thursday’s meeting, the chairship of the three-member board transitioned from one party’s appointee to the other, in a longstanding mutually-agreed tradition. Republican Party appointee Hal Turner, who chaired the board in 2020, passed the virtual gavel to Democratic Party appointee Carolyn VandeWiele. The third member of the board is the Monroe County clerk, who is currently Nicole Browne.

In his introductory remarks, Turner commented on the previous day’s events in Washington D.C. when pro-Trump rioters had stormed the Capitol.

“Yesterday, we saw not just an illegal act by 52 people who invaded the Capitol building, but also a gross insult to our democracy and the republic that makes our form of democracy possible,” Turner said.

Turner continued, “But the sanctity of the Constitution ultimately prevailed. And good women and men were not deterred from their sacred constitutional obligations. To quote our Indiana senator Todd Young, on the steps of the Capitol yesterday, ‘When it comes to the law, our opinions don’t matter. The law matters. I took an oath under God.’”
Continue reading “Election board reviews balloting, tees up hearings on electioneering charge, fine for late finance form”

2016 versus 2020: Shades of difference leave Indiana still red, Monroe County still blue

From 2016 to 2020, not a lot changed in the general election results in the state of Indiana for the top of the ticket.

In the Hoosier state, Republican Donald Trump had 57.1 percent of the vote against Democrat Hillary Clinton. Against Joe Biden, Trump tallied about the same percentage—just one-tenth of a point lower.

But Biden did 3 points better than Clinton, with 41 percent compared to Clinton’s 38 percent. In 2016, Libertarian Gary Johnson drew almost 5 percent of the vote.

The county-by-county tally yielded a different winner in just one of Indiana’s 92 counties. In Tippecanoe County, Biden squeaked out a 0.2 point margin over Trump, a place where Trump was four points better than Clinton four years ago. That made a total of five counties blue this year, compared to four in 2016.

But the shades of difference across counties give some insight that might not be apparent from statewide or county totals.

To get a better idea of where things improved for each party, The Square Beacon plotted the difference in margins between 2020 and 2016 for the presidential race in those years.

In the shaded maps of presidential race results that are published with this article, red indicates that Trump’s margin compared to Biden was better than Trump’s margin compared to Clinton. Darker shades of red indicate a better margin for Trump in 2020 than in 2016. Blue means that Trump’s margin compared to Biden was worse than his margin compared to Clinton. Continue reading “2016 versus 2020: Shades of difference leave Indiana still red, Monroe County still blue”

Monroe County voters put three incumbent Democrats back on county council

In 2021, Republican Marty Hawk will remain the sole Republican on the seven-member Monroe County council.

Voters returned incumbent Democrats Trent Deckard, Cheryl Munson and Geoff McKim to office with comfortable margins over the two Republicans on the ballot, James Allen and Larrin Wampler. It was the three at-large county council seats that were open this year, in a vote-for-up-to-three type race. The top three vote getters were elected.

In the race for county council, Deckard led with 32,055 votes (24.5 percent). Munson tallied 31,918 votes (24.3 percent). McKim rounded out the top three spots with 28,797 votes (22 percent).

Allen and Wampler received 20,234 votes (15.4 percent) and 17,782 votes (13.6 percent), respectively. Writing in the name of registered write-in candidate, Janna Arthur, were 324 voters. Arthur spoke up at several public meetings over the summer in support of reduced policing and reduced funding for law enforcement. Continue reading “Monroe County voters put three incumbent Democrats back on county council”

MCCSC school board races: Four seats filled with one new member, three incumbents

On Tuesday, voters in the part of the county served by the Monroe County Community School Corporation returned three incumbents to their seats on the board of trustees and put one new member on the board.

Winning a seat on the non-partisan board for the first time was April Hennessey, who prevailed in a three-way race that included Matthew Smith and incumbent Sue Wanzer.

Incumbent Cathy Fuentes-Rowher prevailed over challenger Marsha Lovejoy.

Incumbent Jacinda Townsend-Gides prevailed over challenger Philip Eskew, Jr.

District 5 incumbent Keith Klein, who has served as trustee since 2009, was unopposed. He is an adjunct faculty member in communications at Ivy Tech Bloomington. Continue reading “MCCSC school board races: Four seats filled with one new member, three incumbents”

Alea iacta est: Nov. 3, 2020 election results, served when ready

Polls closed at 6 p.m. in Monroe County, Indiana.

cropped i voted IMG_2070

County clerk Nicole Browne has said during the run-up to Election Day this year that results might not be available Tuesday night.

That’s due in part to the fact that mail-in absentee ballots can’t be removed from their envelopes until Election Day. Around 15,000 ballots were sent to voters who requested them. Of those, as of two days ago, close to 14,000 ballots had been sent in.

By way of comparison, for the June 2, primary elections, about 17,500 people voted by mail. That was a number big enough that it pushed local results to the following day.

For the primary election, just seven polling sites were used. For the general election today, voters cast ballots at 28 different polling sites. That’s four times as many reports from polling sites that need to be processed, compared to the primary.

For today’s general election, two races have registered write-in candidates—for county commissioner and for at-large county council. The scanners can tell which ballots had someone’s name written in and they are segregated into a set for review by human eyeballs. But reviewing them one at a time is a necessary step, to ensure that just those write-in votes are counted for the candidates who registered.

The raw number of total  ballots is also expected to be greater than in the primary. In 2016, about 60,000 people voted in Monroe County, which was about twice the 27,000 people who voted in this year’s primaries.

The Square Beacon will report whatever information is available from the Monroe County clerk’s office, as soon as it’s available. Some results from other counties across the state might be available on the election results webpage that has been set up by Indiana’s secretary of state. Continue reading “Alea iacta est: Nov. 3, 2020 election results, served when ready”

Monroe County 2020 Election Day: Polls are OPEN

Arlington Elementary School in Bloomington, Indiana around 5:45 a.m. before polls opened on Election Day 2020. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

Around 5:45 a.m. maybe a dozen people were standing in line at Arlington Elementary School, waiting to cast their ballots in the 2020 general election. By the time the clock ticked to 6 a.m. the number had grown to over 60. That’s when the precinct inspector emerged to declare “The polls are now open!

For the next 12 hours, the residents of Monroe County, Indiana will be voting. The Square Beacon will try to file some updates from the field through the day. #mocoinvotes Continue reading “Monroe County 2020 Election Day: Polls are OPEN”

Early voting in Monroe County wraps up with nearly 23K ballots marked, a few hundred snacks munched

At noon on Monday morning, the line of early in-person voters at Election Central in downtown Bloomington still wrapped three-quarters of the way around the block.

Standing near the line, on Rogers Street just north of 6th Street, next to a cooler with snacks and bottled water, was Lisa McCune.

She’s known as the “snack lady” to the regular crew of candidates and their supporters who’ve been standing holding their signs at the corner of 7th and Madison streets through the four weeks of early voting. Early voting ended at noon on Monday.

McCune said the inspiration for distributing snacks came when she cast her own ballot and she was waiting in line to vote near Rogers and 6th streets, about the same spot where she had her cooler set up on Monday: “I was standing right about here a couple weeks ago. And I said, I got a headache. I wish I’d brought a water. I wish I’d brought a snack. Everybody in this line is probably thinking the same thing.”

So off McCune went to Sam’s Club. And she returned on the following days to distribute her bits of cheer to voters.

McCune told The Square Beacon she’d lived in Bloomington “forever”—which means she arrived here from Mishawaka in 1972 and earned a degree in linguistics and Spanish at Indiana University.

On the final day of early in-person voting, 719 people cast their ballots. That was a low for a daily total over the four week period, but that was because voting ended at noon. That meant just four hours of voting on Monday. Measured by through-put, the 180 voters per hour on Monday was the maximum achieved on any day during early voting.

Monday’s tally brought the total of in-person early votes to 22,881. Added to the 13,843 absentee ballots that had been received by the start of the day on Monday, that makes 35,794 confirmed early votes, with another 1,100 mail-in ballots still outstanding. Continue reading “Early voting in Monroe County wraps up with nearly 23K ballots marked, a few hundred snacks munched”

Halloween early in-person voter tally: 1,149 Monroe County residents, 1 pink pig

Saturday was a milestone for Indiana University student Bayasa Batsaikhan, who’s studying for a masters degree in information systems.

BSB: Is this your first time voting?

Batsaikhan: It actually is.

BSB: First time ever?

Batsaikhan: Ever.

Batsaikhan cast her first ballot ever on Saturday at Election Central in downtown Bloomington at 7th and Madison streets, where she stood in line with a couple hundred other people. That meant waiting times as long as an hour and a half to two hours.

On Saturday, 1,150 people voted early in person, bringing the total to 22,062. Just four more hours of early voting are left—on Monday, from 8 a.m. to noon. Tuesday, Nov. 3, is Election Day.

It wasn’t hard to spot Batsaikhan standing in line. She was wearing an inflatable pig costume. “I had to bring Halloween to the voting polls,” she said. Continue reading “Halloween early in-person voter tally: 1,149 Monroe County residents, 1 pink pig”

A look back at 2016 Monroe County results, 2020 early voting continues at 100 voters-per-hour pace

Saturday’s early in-person voting total in Monroe County was 825.

That daily total was the smallest number so far in the first three weeks of early voting. But that’s because it was the first day of Saturday voting, which offers just seven hours of voting time.

Saturday’s pace of around 118 voters per hour was the highest throughput of any day so far.

Early voting takes place at just one location, Election Central, at 7th and Madison streets in downtown Bloomington.

Based on the roughly 15,000 early in-person voters so far, and the remaining hours of in-person early voting that are available, around 21,000 people might be expected to have voted in person before Election Day on Nov. 3.

Last week’s number of mail-in absentee ballots requested was put at around 14,000 at last Tuesday’s meeting of the election board.

If voter turnout this year matches the numbers from 2016, which was the most recent presidential year election, that would mean just shy of 60,000 voters.

Peeling off this year’s early in-person and mail-in numbers from 60,000 would still leave at least 25,000 people voting on Election Day. They would be casting their ballots at one of the 28 polling locations around the county where they are assigned to vote.

On average that would mean every polling site on Election Day would be handling around 890 voters over the 12-hour voting period. That works out to about 74 voters per hour.

But that’s if the same number of voters turn out this year as last year. It could be a lot more. For every 1,000 additional Monroe County voters who cast a ballot this year, the 28 polling sites will need to handle another three voters per hour. Continue reading “A look back at 2016 Monroe County results, 2020 early voting continues at 100 voters-per-hour pace”

Early in-person voting continues Saturday in Monroe County, pace so far around 100 voters per hour

Friday set another daily high for early in-person voters in Monroe County: 1,114. That eclipsed by a half dozen voters the previous high of 1,108, which was set on Thursday.

Through the first 14 days of early voting, the total of early voters stands at 14,142.

Remaining days to vote in person include this Saturday (Oct. 24), weekdays the following week, next Saturday (Oct. 31) and the final Monday before Election Day.

Election Central, where early in-person voting takes place, is at 7th and Madison streets in downtown Bloomington—the old Johnson Hardware building.

The voting totals on Saturday are almost certain to be lower than the average of about 1,000 per day that have been tallied through the first 14 days. That’s because Saturday voting hours are shorter—seven hours compared to 10 on weekdays. (For voting times and days, check Monroe County’s Election Central website.)

If the same pace of voting is maintained on Saturday, about 700 people will make their way through the line by the end of the day, which has generally wrapped at least halfway around the block.

At Friday afternoon’s weekly press conference on COVID-19 pandemic response, president of the county commissioners, Julie Thomas, said, “I personally waited an hour and 45 minutes to vote and it was worth every moment.” She added, “Everyone in line was wearing a mask, we were standing six feet apart. So it was really heartening to see that and we really appreciate the voters for doing that.”

The only early voting location in Monroe County is at 7th and Madison streets in downtown Bloomington. Continue reading “Early in-person voting continues Saturday in Monroe County, pace so far around 100 voters per hour”