Analysis: 2024 edition of Bloomington city council will be different, by a little or a lot

In 2023, elections will be held for 11 Bloomington city offices—mayor, clerk, and the nine seats on the city council.

The image links to a dynamic version of the new Bloomington city council district map, which allows zooming in and out.

After the 2023 city elections, the composition of the nine-member Bloomington city council, which will be sworn in to start 2024, is sure to be different by at least one member. But it could be more.

That’s based on the fact that it’s not possible to serve or to run as mayor and city councilmember at the same time.

Also in the mix are new city council district boundaries, and a somewhat easier path to the ballot for candidates who want to run independent of a political party.

City council president Susan Sandberg has announced she’s running for mayor, which means she’s not running for city council.

To file an official declaration, Sandberg like other candidates in the municipal election, will have a 30-day window that starts Jan. 4, 2023, 118 days before the May 2, 2023 primary. Sandberg’s committee paperwork has already been filed. Continue reading “Analysis: 2024 edition of Bloomington city council will be different, by a little or a lot”

Monroe County GOP gives greenlight to county chair to fill ballot vacancies

At a meeting of Republican Party precinct chairs held at Ellettsville town hall on Tuesday evening, they gave county party chair Taylor Bryant the authority to fill vacancies on the Nov. 8 election ballot.

Bryant would have until noon on July 3 fill ballot vacancies.

Before the vote, county vice chair William Ellis said Bryant’s authority is just for cases where no GOP candidate filed for the May 3 primary election, and does not extend to filling a vacancy for an office due to resignation or death.

As of Tuesday, the GOP does not have on-the-ballot candidates for several Monroe County races, like prosecutor, clerk, assessor, and two judgeships. That’s due in part to the fact that Monroe County voters favor Democratic Party candidates. In the 2020 presidential race, Democrat Joe Biden won over Republican Donald Trump by a 28-point margin.

Responding to a B Square question after Tuesday’s meeting, Bryant said for township trustee and township board positions she’s heard some interest expressed from potential candidates. About county-level positions, Bryant said, “We’ve had some conversations—I don’t know if we’re going to get anybody for those.” Continue reading “Monroe County GOP gives greenlight to county chair to fill ballot vacancies”

Still not decided: Will Myra Kinser’s name appear on May 3 primary ballot for District 62 state house seat? [Now decided: Judge denies Kinser’s claim]

[Updated on April 6, 2022 at 12:30 p.m.  On April 5, 2022, Judge Nathan Nikirk ruled on the case, denying Kinser’s claim that the state election commission had concluded incorrectly that she did not meet the two-year state residency requirement. That means Kinser’s name will not appear on the ballot. Those who have already voted will not have to vote again on a different ballot.]

Still not settled, after a Tuesday morning judicial hearing, is the Republican Party’s May 3 primary election ballot lineup for the District 62 seat in the Indiana legislature’s house of representatives.

three people exiting courthouse, a man leading the way with papers under his arm, looking back at two women who are each carrying a bag
From left as they exit Monroe County’s justice center on Tuesday: Daniel Cyr, attorney for Myra Kinser, Hope Ellington, and Myra Kinser. 

The question to be decided: Should Myra Kinser’s name be added back to the ballot after the four-member state election commission decided at a Feb. 18, 2022 hearing to remove it, based on a residency challenge?

Two Republican candidates are definitely on the ballot for District 62: Dave Hall and Greg Knott.

A candidate for a state house seat in Indiana must have resided in the state for at least two years and in the house district for at least one year before the election.

Challenging Kinser’s candidacy, for allegedly failing to meet the two-year state residency requirement, was Amanda Lowery, who is Jackson County’s recorder. Here’s a YouTube video cued up to the spot during the Feb. 18 hearing, when Lowery’s challenge starts: Indiana EC 2022-02-18 hearing.

The vote by state election commissioners was 3–1 to remove Kinser’s name from the ballot.

Kinser has taken the step of asking for a review of the election commission’s decision. Presiding over the 9 a.m. Tuesday hearing, held at Monroe County’s Charlotte Zietlow Justice Center, was Lawrence County circuit judge Nathan Nikirk. He was assigned as a special judge in the case after Monroe County judges recused themselves.

On Tuesday, Nikirk did not rule from the bench.

Continue reading “Still not decided: Will Myra Kinser’s name appear on May 3 primary ballot for District 62 state house seat? [Now decided: Judge denies Kinser’s claim]”

Election notebook: Candidates inspect ballot proofs

On Friday for most of the day, 190 different ballot types for the May 3 primary elections were on display for review by the candidates at Monroe County’s election central.

That’s the office in the old Johnson Hardware building at 7th and Madison streets.

The B Square counted 28 candidates or their proxies who inspected ballots on Friday. That’s just 16 percent of the 172 total candidate names that will appear on ballots in Monroe County. It’s not a legal requirement that candidates inspect the ballot.

But it is a requirement of state law that ballot proofs be made available for inspection before they’re printed [IC 3-11-2-2.1]

It’s a chance for candidates to help catch misspellings of their own names before the ballots get printed.

The email message to candidates sent by Monroe County election supervisor Karen Wheeler begged them to stop by and check over the ballots: “So I will implore you to come and review. This is the time to catch anything that may be wrong.” Continue reading “Election notebook: Candidates inspect ballot proofs”

Indiana’s election commission confirms primary will include in-person voting on June 2, reveals partisan sticking points despite consensus

At a Friday noon meeting, Indiana’s four-member state election commission adopted an order that says in-person voting will take place on Election Day, June 2.

Early in-person voting will be held May 26 through June 1.

Annotated revised cropped-primary-voting
Indiana’s primary has been postponed from May 5 to June 2. There will still be some in-person voting, but vote-by-mail is being encouraged.

The possibility of a vote-by-mail election, which had some advocates across the state—as a way to ensure safety for voters in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic—now appears dim, if not extinguished.

But no-excuse absentee voting, which allows voting by mail, is an option for this year’s primary.

The possibility of a vote-by-mail election, with virtually no in-person voting, was on the agenda for a previously scheduled meeting of the election commission, set for April 22 under its March 25 order.  That meeting is still scheduled as a part of the election board’s order approved on Friday.

Based on the light partisan skirmishing at Friday’s election commission meeting, any consideration of a vote-by-mail election on April 22 is likely to be ceremonial, unless the current slight trend, towards flattening of COVID-19 numbers, reverses.

“The fact of the matter is, there are some people that feel very, very strongly about voting in person,” secretary of state Connie Lawson said at Thursday’s daily press briefing by Indiana’s governor Eric Holcomb. In her remarks, Lawson previewed the action at the election commission’s meeting, which was set for the following day. Continue reading “Indiana’s election commission confirms primary will include in-person voting on June 2, reveals partisan sticking points despite consensus”

Election equipment vendors pitch wares to Monroe County officials

Monroe County is looking to get some new election equipment. The 2020 budget adopted last Tuesday by the county council includes a general obligation bond, out of which around $1 million could be used on the purchase of new voting machines. The council’s decision on the bond issuance isn’t expected until its November meeting.

On Monday afternoon, four different vendors pitched their wares to county officials as part of their response to the RFP (request for proposals) that’s been issued by the county. The RFP says the county is looking either to lease or purchase the equipment.

Vendors on hand to demonstrate their voting machines at the courthouse on Monday were: Hart Intercivic, out of Austin, Texas;  Election Systems & Software (ES&S), out of Omaha, Nebraska; Unisyn Voting Systems  out of Vista, California; and MicroVote General Corporation from Indianapolis.

Proposals from vendors have to be turned in to the board of county commissioners by Oct. 22. The timeline in the RFP is described as a “best estimate.” After possible interviews, the evaluation of the proposals is planned for Nov. 2. A decision by commissioners could be made at their regular meeting on Nov. 6.

Continue reading “Election equipment vendors pitch wares to Monroe County officials”

Election board OKs final prep for reduced November elections: “I … recommend that we charge both parties with letting their voters know.”

Carolyn VanddeWiele, a Democrat who chairs Monroe County’s three-member election board, led the group at its meeting last Thursday through its routine final preparations for the Nov. 5 municipal elections.

Part of that prep included some announcements of key dates. Oct. 7 is the last day to register to vote in Bloomington municipal elections. And the first day for early voting is Oct. 21.

Both main items on the agenda reflected the fact that this year’s municipal elections in Bloomington will be held in just two out of the city’s council districts—District 2 and District 3.

One agenda item, approval of the official legal notice, called out District 2 and District 3 as the only districts where elections will be held. That’s because of an election board decision made at its Aug. 1 meeting. The board based its decision on the fact that the city-wide races for mayor, clerk and councilmember at large, are all uncontested—a situation that’s unprecedented in Bloomington—and the races in the other four districts are uncontested. Continue reading “Election board OKs final prep for reduced November elections: “I … recommend that we charge both parties with letting their voters know.””