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Election system needs a reboot

Huntington County held a county-wide election with nearly 10,000 votes cast, and results were finalized and posted by 7:36 p.m. Tuesday. 

Nearly 150,000 cast their vote to choose a mayor in Indianapolis, yet Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced his victory around 7:45 p.m.

At 7:45 p.m., Grant County hadn’t reported a single precinct, with only a small portion of the approximately 7,000 ballots cast reported. At around 9:30 p.m., 30 of the total 46 precincts were uploaded to the election results website at last, but it took more than 30 minutes to fully release the complete report. 

At the end of the night, reports that election deputies had to leave the courthouse to retrieve voting machines from a precinct only caused more confusion and frustration for voters, especially since attendees at watch parties began to speculate about how the election was being handled. The Chronicle-Tribune confirmed Wednesday that officials did in fact have to travel to a polling location in order to bring some machines, which were reportedly locked and left at the center in accordance with election policies, back to the courthouse in order to resolve an issue with voter information cards that wouldn’t work properly. 

In order to ensure the citizens of Grant County trust the process and validity of local elections, it is incumbent upon the Grant County Election Board to make necessary and significant changes to ensure our county’s elections run smoothly and efficiently, leaving no room for any uncertainty. 

It would be one thing if Tuesday’s issues were a one-time scenario, but Grant County has a history of being one of the slowest counties in Indiana when it comes to reporting election results.

In fact, this year’s Primary Election did not run efficiently either. A technology glitch caused a delay in the counting of the approximately 3,000 votes cast this past May, according to past Chronicle-Tribune reports. On Nov. 7, 2012, not even half of the total votes cast on General Election Day were counted by 11:30 p.m., according to past Chronicle-Tribune reports. 

“It is mind blowing to me to be one of the only counties in Indiana not reporting substantial results,” Congressional District 31 Democratic challenger Katie Morgan said in 2012. 

In 2008, election results weren’t reportedly completed until after 2 a.m. the day following the election. In 2006, poll wokers left voting information cards in the machines and technology issues also played into delayed results. 

Election Deputy Nancy Bryant explained that six people, three Democrats and three Republicans, were tasked with counting the above average number of absentee ballots, which have to be verified by hand. It is refreshing to see that Grant County Clerk Pam Harris acknowledged that more should have been done to prevent the delay experienced Tuesday night, but now it is up to election officials, county government and those tasked with operating our elections to make the changes necessary to ensure procedures are followed, our election equipment is up to date and communication is seamless. 

Other counties in our area have found great success with consolidating the number of precincts offered while also allowing voters to go to any “voting center” instead of a specific precinct. This move would not only allow voters to choose a poll most convenient for them, but it would also streamline communication, make counting easier and possibly trim the number of volunteers and paid employees needed at the locations. 

These issues aren’t new. It’s time for someone to actually do something about it. 

These aren’t unique circumstances. The system isn’t working properly. It’s time we make changes to protect the integrity of our elections.