Monroe County election prep continues, Hilton rejected as poll worker training space

Poll workers for Monroe County’s May 3 primary elections won’t be trained at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Instead they’ll learn the ins and outs of working the polls at the county government center in the Showers building on Morton Street, or the new election operations center at 3rd and Walnut streets. That’s the former NAPA building.

When county commissioners came to the $4,880 item on their Wednesday agenda, an early indication that they would not be approving it came from Penny Githens. “I don’t understand why we’re asking county taxpayers to pay close to $5,000 when we have space, I thought, in the Showers building for the training,” Githens said.

Deliberations on the item were continued to a work session following the regular meeting. A $1,000 down payment that was paid to Hilton last fall was eventually determined to be refundable, which cleared the way to a 0–3 vote by commissioners on the item.

The rejection of the county clerk’s request to pay for space at the Hilton Garden Inn can be analyzed as part of ongoing friction between the clerk’s office and the election board over space allocations.

Other election-related items on Wednesday’s agenda won easy approval, including a $200,000 contract with B&L IT Services for a year’s worth of election support services. Deputy clerk Tressia Martin told commissioners that the B&L sets up all the poll sites, handles ADA compliance, ensures internet connectivity, organizes equipment storage, and creates polling location maps and an equipment catalog. Continue reading “Monroe County election prep continues, Hilton rejected as poll worker training space”

Former NAPA building gets Comcast internet connection as in-person early voting looms

An Xfinity service truck heads north on Walnut at 3rd Street on Feb. 2, 2022 after exiting from the former NAPA parking lot, which is out of the frame to the right. The downtown transit center is visible in the left of the photo.

Last Thursday (Jan. 27), Monroe County’s election board voted to make the former NAPA building at the corner of 3rd and Walnut streets the location of early in-person voting for 2022 elections.

On Wednesday morning, the three-member board of county commissioners voted to approve a contract with Comcast for the needed internet connectivity, to make it possible to run elections out of the currently vacant building.

According to the background information in the meeting information packet, the initial fee is $119.95 with a monthly recurring fee of $190 for 1G/35 Mbps service. Continue reading “Former NAPA building gets Comcast internet connection as in-person early voting looms”

Day 1 for candidate filings in Monroe County: Some Hoosier Democrats, Republicans make it official

Publicly announced intentions and exploratory committees are one thing. Official candidate filings are another.

Wednesday was the first day when it was possible to declare an official candidacy for one of the state or county public offices up for election in 2022.

Election Central, at 7th and Madison streets in downtown Bloomington, was not exactly teeming with candidate filing activity through the day on Wednesday.

But by 4 p.m. when the building closed, a dozen and a half candidates had made their way through the doors to the building and on to the registration office, which was marked with signage indicating only “one person at a time” should enter. Continue reading “Day 1 for candidate filings in Monroe County: Some Hoosier Democrats, Republicans make it official”

Election division physical space needs: County officials meet again this week, open house scheduled

On the Wednesday morning regular meeting agenda of the Monroe County commissioners is a resolution that will establish a committee to handle the review of voting precincts and districts in light of the 2020 US Census results.

As significant as that action is, it’s not the main election news for this week in Monroe County.

On Wednesday (Sept. 1), the county commissioners will hear from county clerk Nicole Browne for the fourth time in as many weeks on the topic of space needs for the election division. The elections division is currently housed on the first floor of the old Johnson Hardware building at Madison and 7th streets. The building is known as Election Central.

Browne has told commissioners that space requirements for year-round election work and early voting point to allocation of the whole building to elections. That includes the second floor, which is currently home to the county’s probation department.

At each of the Aug. 18 and Aug. 25 regular meetings of the commissioners, at least half dozen people, all with a fair amount of community clout, spoke in support of Browne’s request. Among them were two clerks from other Indiana counties. Continue reading “Election division physical space needs: County officials meet again this week, open house scheduled”

Long-time election worker retires: “We’re here for one thing. And that’s to make a good election.”

Monroe County’s clerk, Nicole Browne, told The B Square on Thursday afternoon: “There is no replacing a Jack. He is one-of-a-kind. He is amazing. And I will miss him every single day. Every single day.”

Browne was talking about Jack Davis, a county employee whose retirement was marked Thursday at a reception held by his colleagues at Election Central, where he has worked for the election division.

Thursday was the six-year anniversary of Davis’s most recent span of service in local government—he started that half-dozen year stretch on the same day as county election supervisor Karen Wheeler.

But the octogenarian’s history of work for local government can be traced back to way earlier. Continue reading “Long-time election worker retires: “We’re here for one thing. And that’s to make a good election.””

Monroe County election board girds for June 2 in-person primary balloting, but all voters to receive applications to vote by mail

Monroe County’s election board is preparing for the upcoming June 2 primary election by promoting the no-excuse absentee voting option that the state’s election commission has enacted just for this year’s primary.

The June 2 date is a postponement from the originally scheduled May 5 primary. Postponement of the election and no-excuse absentee voting are measures meant to help make the election safer for the voters and election workers.

Voting absentee takes a couple of steps, the first of which is for a voter to submit an application form to request a ballot.

At it’s meeting on  Thursday afternoon, the election board gave a green light to election office staffers to start prepping for a mass mailing, so that all of the county’s roughly 100,000 registered voters will receive a ballot application in the mail. Continue reading “Monroe County election board girds for June 2 in-person primary balloting, but all voters to receive applications to vote by mail”

Monroe County election headquarter renovations OK’d ahead of 2020 primaries

On Wednesday morning at their work session, Monroe County commissioners approved about $39,000 worth of renovations to the old Johnson Hardware Building, aka Election Central, at 7th and Madison streets.

According to election supervisor Karen Wheeler, the work is supposed to take about three weeks. That should mean it will be done well before the May 5 primary election. Continue reading “Monroe County election headquarter renovations OK’d ahead of 2020 primaries”

Buckle up, Bloomington, it’s Election Day!

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Arlington Heights Elementary School, where voters in the Bloomington 14 precinct cast their ballots shortly after polls opened at 6 a.m. on Nov. 5, 2019. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The polls for Bloomington’s municipal elections opened today “without incident,” according to an email sent out by Monroe County’s clerk, Nicole Browne.

For a last-minute overview of candidates and the background for the cancelled elections in all but two of Bloomington’s six city council districts, check out The Beacon’s voter’s guide.

Here are some quick links to candidate profiles:

District 2

District 3

The Beacon will try to tour all of the nine polling locations for District 2 and District 3 today. Timestamped updates to this post will be filed from each polling place. Continue reading “Buckle up, Bloomington, it’s Election Day!”

Bloomington’s municipal elections: 12 hours left on Election Day to make up for light early voting

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Monroe County’s election board met on Monday evening at Election Central at 7th and Madison streets (Note the white board note: “Countdown to 2019 Municipal Elections 1 day”) The board’s business on Election Day Eve included certifying a list of 28 incomplete registrations. From left are the three election board members: Hal Turner, Carolyn VandeWiele, and Monroe County’s clerk, Nicole Brown. Behind the counter is deputy clerk Tressia Martin and election supervisor Karen Wheeler. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Early voting at Election Central in Bloomington’s municipal elections ended Monday at noon.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5. Polls are open for twelve hours, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Based on early voting totals, the lack of competition in citywide races and four of the six council districts looks like it could be having the kind of negative impact on turnout that was predicted, especially in District 3.

Compared to 2015’s numerical count of early vote totals, District 2 is down this year by 14 percent. District 3 is down 58 percent. Continue reading “Bloomington’s municipal elections: 12 hours left on Election Day to make up for light early voting”

Bloomington city council candidate forum: Indiana University connections

Last Monday (Oct. 29) all five candidates in Bloomington’s city council elections—held only in District 2 and District 3 this year—appeared on Indiana University’s campus. They participated in a forum hosted by The Civil Society at Indiana University. Moderators were students Meredith Karbowsky and Tyler Combs.

The event was held in Woodburn Hall, Room 004, in the lower level of the building, which features slate chalkboards and auditorium-style seats, bolted to the floor, with built-in swing-up tablet arms.

The venue itself got a mention in their introductory remarks from two of the candidates. District 3 independent candidate Marty Spechler told the group he is an emeritus professor of economics at the university—and he’d taught classes in the room. District 2 Republican candidate Andrew Guenther, a recent graduate of the school, said he was glad to be back in the room, where he’d just recently taken political science classes.

Guenther’s opponent in District 2, Democrat Sue Sgambelluri, also holds a degree from IU and works as development director for the college of arts and sciences. In District 3, the other two candidates, Democrat Ron Smith and independent Nick Kappas, also have connections to IU through degrees they earned there.

Most questions asked by moderators were either directly or indirectly connected to the university.

Candidates were asked how they would strike the balance between representing student interests and representing the interest of Bloomington locals. They were also asked how they would ensure student access to quality housing. Based on some recent shootings that did not prompt IU Notify alerts, candidates got a question about how they’d maintain and improve public safety in Bloomington.

Climate change was topic that candidates were asked about, which was not prompted by a university-specific connection.

Earlier reporting on the forum by The Beacon covered the topic of white supremacism as it relates to Bloomington’s farmers market.

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From left: District 2 candidates Andrew Guenther and Sue Sgambelluri; moderators Meredith Karbowsky and Tyler Combs; District 3 candidates Marty Spechler, Ron Smith, and Nick Kappas. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Continue reading “Bloomington city council candidate forum: Indiana University connections”