The coronavirus did not stop Grant County residents from exercising their right to vote Tuesday, but it bring about changes compared to past elections.
“This has just been such a different time,” said Grant County Clerk of Courts Pamela Harris. “It’s like we’ve been killing snakes for a month now.”
The election day had a rocky start, Pam said.
“Because of the virus, we had people that were wanting to help and had helped in the past, and then they’ve had a family member at the last minute say, ‘No, we’re not comfortable,’” Harris said.
Finding poll workers has been difficult in recent years, but this year was especially challenging, Harris said.
“Once we got things going, it’s been a smooth day,” she added.
The polling center at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church had to make do without one of their clerks.
“We had three people who worked the polls for the last four years with me who backed out because of the virus,” said Dave Craun, the Election Inspector.
Craun said yesterday was his seventh time working the polls, and he noticed fewer voters and more absentee ballots.
“The voters aren’t wanting to get out and be amongst people, so the absentee voting has increased greatly,” Harris said.
To make voters feel safe at the polls, Harris said the secretary of state supplied all 92 counties with masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and a special solution to clean the voting machines.
Donna Henderson and her father Russell King said they felt safe voting at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church.
Henderson said she was not afraid of the virus because “God’s in charge of the whole situation.”
Stanford Bolden, the pastor of Trinity Victory Baptist church, voted at the Clarence Faulkner Community Center.
“I feel that (the virus) is beginning to clear out, and hopefully it does. I feel that it is a risk to each and every individual,” Bolden said. “I feel that we should be very cautious during this time of this virus.”
Amid the pandemic and the protests and riots following the death of George Floyd, Bolden said it is especially important to vote.
“We certainly need to do something to get our nation out of this chaos,” Bolden said. “I’d like for (the president) to join the American people and let us know that he is sincere about wanting this country to have justice.”
Benita Shannon, an election judge, assisted Bolden.
“This is my first year actually working the polls. I get to see another side of voting,” Shannon said. “I am very excited and glad that I get to be part of it.”
For every person who decided not to work the polls, Harris said there were three or four people who said, “What can I do?”
“It’s just been amazing to see the way you can’t keep us down,” Harris said. “I am just so very proud of my staff and of our community.”
Harris mentioned the “We’re all in this together” signs that have been going up around Marion.
“... well, that’s kind of how it is,” Harris said. “We’ve put party lines aside and just been working together to really make sure the election is a success.”
In the recent nights, Harris said her team has been working late hours preparing for election day, and they have noticed the protesters outside the courthouse.
“The protests have been very, very calm and peaceful,” Harris said. “They are part of what makes us who we are: our right to voice our thoughts.”
Over the past few days, I’ve been trying to find words and perspective in what is the most chaotic and confusing time of our lives.
Four years ago on June 3, I was given the platform to be sports editor for the Chronicle-Tribune. With very few exceptions, I’ve loved every day covering the schools and kids in Grant County, in Marion, in my hometown.
Sports became non-existent when we first started dealing with COVID-19. Obviously, it was a necessary precaution as we only started to learn about how to best deal with a global pandemic caused by a debilitating and potentially deadly virus.
During the past week, sports has largely become trivial, almost meaningless.
A far more long-lasting pandemic reappeared with the video of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
Truth be told, issues of racism have been present in America since the birth of our nation; however, hate for another human isn’t something people are born with.
Hate and racism are learned behaviors. The big question is why? What drives hate? What drives racism?
I’ve seen what hate and racism looks life at different times in my life. Other than seeing the ugliness in pictures and videos, my witness to such hate has seldom been overt.
In all the instances, I cannot comprehend why it remains so prevalent in our society in 2020.
Is it as simple as having different tones of skin color? Does that breed the fear that gives birth to racism?
My guess is that’s the root cause in most instances. Even so, it blows my mind that a man can be filled with so much hate, or cowardice, that he would harm or snuff out the life of another.
Is it also indifference that has fueled the racism in our society?
It’s natural to prioritize yourself, your family and loved ones. Every one of us endures struggles, enjoys successes and makes our way through this thing we call life.
We also have to share space, share time and the great part is we get to share that with each other!
How can people genuinely not care about other humans? It’s maddening, frustrating and sad.
I’m heartbroken for people who have dealt with racism on any level. I’m also a sad for people who carry so much hate in their hearts. Carrying hate, or any negative emotion for that matter, is taxing mentally, physically and spiritually.
I believe the indifference we’ve shown one another has helped racism endure through centuries.
Our modern technology has brought hate and some of its associated violence to the forefront, and it’s no longer OK to remain indifferent.
I don’t recall when I first heard the term white privilege. I never understood what it meant or thought it applied to me at all.
That is until the last few days.
My thought was always that privilege comes with wealth, with power. It didn’t apply to a regular guy who has worked several average jobs in his life and mostly lived paycheck-to-paycheck, but it does.
I’ve learned how much of a double-edged sword social media provides since I started working at the C-T, but it’s becoming an even more polarizing outlet since the beginning of the pandemic and with all the unrest going on.
Social media allows people to paint their own narrative of a situation; it gives people a voice. I’ve long believed social media provides platforms for voices that no one should have to listen to, and I’ll take that belief to my death.
I get it, though. The First Amendment to the Constitution protects our freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to assemble, all of which are necessary if we truly value our free society.
For all its ills and evils of late, social media has definitely helped me understand what it means to have white privilege. I’ve unquestionably grown up with it and live today with it.
My traffic violations have been few over the past 35 years and my business of dealing with law enforcement officers has been minimal.
Though each time I’ve been pulled over in a vehicle it’s always given me an uneasy, kind of shameful feeling, I’ve never once feared for my life.
Never once have I gone out for a walk, or out in public, or to a ballgame or anywhere else and had an ounce of fear of being racially profiled and accosted or harassed.
I don’t understand what it means to be a black man, woman or child in America. My white privilege has allowed me to be blind, remain silent.
I can no longer be blind or remain silent. I have to use my platform as a journalist to try and raise awareness, promote peace and harmony, justice and equality.
The best way I see to promote a unified society, one that truly gives us a level playing field when it comes to opportunities and equality, is through open and honest dialogue.
We don’t have the best example of how to do that being provided by our leaders in government. One side wants to blame the other without looking into the mirror of accountability while the other side largely plays the same divisive role.
The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, but it seems the left and right can’t even sit down and discuss what’s good for the country, not just part of it.
I have seen some encouraging signs through some of the peaceful protests going on around our country. Law enforcement officers are walking together with protesters in unity and understanding.
Perhaps that’s where the dialogue that needs to take place is beginning. Let’s hope.
Understand, conversations may not be comfortable and will never always be agreeable, but they are necessary for growth and the well being of life as we know it today.
Not all cops are bad cops, racists and killers. I don’t understand what it means to be a law enforcement officer, either. I do understand the majority put their lives on the line to serve, protect and adhere to the principles of being a public servant every day. But not all do.
Not all protesters are rioters, creating chaos and bringing about more division instead of allowing for unity and understanding to become more of a possibility.
The year 2020 has already authored a place in history unlike any other in most of our lifetimes.
We all have a voice. We can use our ability to communicate to truly effect going in a positive direction, but only empathy, compassion and love will allow that to happen.
Marion High School (MHS) has moved up its plans for an in-person graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 to July 12, 2020.
MHS administrators have been working with student officers of the Class of 2020 to make this decision. While the school had initially planned to have an in-person graduation ceremony during Homecoming Week in September, many students who are heading to college have concerns that they will not be able to leave their college campus at that time since many colleges are putting restrictions in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
Due to these concerns, MHS has altered its plans in order to hold a July ceremony in line with guidance from local, state and national health officials.
In order to maintain social distancing, this event will not be open to the public and admission will be by invitation only. Each graduate will have two tickets only to provide to the guests of their choosing.
The event will be held at 2:30 p.m. July 12 at Dick Lootens Stadium at Marion High School, 750 S. 26th St. in Marion. In the event of rain, the event will be moved to July 19.
The virtual graduation ceremony, senior spotlight show and more are available on the MHS page at www.marion.k12.in.us.
The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) Tuesday reported 430 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases statewide to 35,237. A total of 2,022 Hoosiers have died, with another 175 probable deaths reported.
As of Tuesday, nearly 44 percent of ICU beds and more than 83 percent of ventilators are available. To date, 271,919 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 265,896 on Monday.
To find testing locations or for more information, visit www.coronavirus.in.gov.
After visiting 26 of the 32 polling locations across Grant County, skipping his lunch and starting his his day at 4:30 a.m. on Primary Election Day, Jason McVicker ended his day victorious.
Current Marion City Court Judge Jason McVicker defeated three fellow Republican hopefuls in the primary for the open Grant County Superior Court 3 seat.
“As someone who is seventh generation Grant County, I am just overwhelmingly humbled by everyone’s support today. I plan to make my best attempts to fill the very large shoes of Judge Warren Haas, who’s done an outstanding job in his two terms in Grant Superior Court 3, and I intend to carry on his good work.”
He said he was overwhelmingly humbled by the results and wanted to thank his opponents for their dedication to Grant County.
“I could not think higher and with more respect for my three opponents. I plan to continue to work with each of them as we continue to practice law together,” he said.
According to unofficial results from Grant County Voter Registration, McVicker received 3,699 votes (48.32 percent), defense attorney David Glickfield III received 2,053 votes (17.15 percent), Grant County Juvenile Court Magistrate Brian McLane received 1,313 votes (17.15 percent) and Grant County Deputy Prosecutor Jarred L. Eib received 590 votes (7.71 percent). No Democrats filed for the seat in the primary.
Two incumbents and one challenger are moving on to the general election for the three Grant County Council at-large seats Tuesday.
Current council members Shane Middlesworth (4,523 votes, 25.50 percent) and Mike Roorbach (3,979 votes, 22.43 percent) and challenger Chuck Poling (3,770 votes, 21.26 percent) beat out incumbent Jonathan Perez (3,129 votes, 17.64 percent) and newcomer Chris Tarlton (2,335 votes, 13.17 percent).
Middlesworth has served as council president since 2019 and was first elected to council in 2012. He said he is thankful for voters’ support and confidence in him being the top vote-getter in the primary heading into the general election.
“I just want to thank all of the voters that came out to the polls and voted and thank all of the ones that submitted absentee ballots,” he said. “It feels a relief to get over this due to it being extended with COVID. It’s nice that the election is finally here.”
Roorbach was first elected to county council in 2016 and thanked those who voted for him.
“It’s very humbling when 3,000 people go into a voting booth and pull the lever beside your name, and it’s also very gratifying,” he said. “I’ve won more elections than I’ve lost and I would always rather win at anything I do, but this was very gratifying and humbling at the same time.”
Roorbach said the primary being pushed back did not affect his campaign since he did not spend any money, and he is excited to keep working on county issues.
“Central dispatch is a real big one,” he said. “I’ll be excited to finish that project, and we’ve got some other things we need to do. I look forward to working with the other members of the council. I’m glad Shane Middlesworth is back, that really really helps.”
Poling is the owner of Chuck’s Sewer and Plumbing, a Grant County Health Board member and an Indiana state delegate. He said he was humbled to be chosen by the Grant County Republican electorate.
“I just thank God. Hopefully I can go in there and be fair and do the right thing for the whole citizens of Grant County,” he said. “I’ll just work real hard for Grant County citizens and try to be fair.”
No Democrats filed for the primary for the three at-large seats. According to the Associated Press, current state Senator Victoria Spartz won the GOP primary for Indiana’s Fifth District, and former state representative Christina Hale won the Democratic primary.
Here are the full results:
Donald Trump (R): 7,300 votes, 93.49 percent
Bill Weld (R): 508 votes, 6.51 percent
Joe Biden (D): 2,485 votes, 79.60 percent
Bernie Sanders (D): 335 votes, 10.73 percent
Eric Holcomb (R): 7,377 votes, 100 percent
Results only reflect Grant County votes cast in district
Kent Abernathy (R): 473 votes, 6.3 percent
Andrew Bales (R) 131, 1.74 percent
Micah Beckwith (R) 1,069 votes, 14.24 percent
Carl Brizzi (R): 302 votes, 4.02 percent
Allen R. Davidson (R): 55 votes, .73 percent
Chuck Dietzen (R): 158 votes, 17.02 percent
Beth Henderson (R): 1,278 votes, 17.02 percent
Matthew Hook (R): 103 votes, 1.37 percent
Matthew Hullinger (R): 66 votes, .88 percent
Kelly Mitchell (R): 383 votes, 5.10 percent
Danny Neiderberger (R): 43 votes, .57 percent
Mark Small (R): 130 votes, 1.73 percent
Victoria Spartz (R): 3,228 votes, 42.99 percent
Russell H. Stwalley (R): 49 votes, .65 percent
Victor Wakley (R): 40 votes, .53 percent
Jennifer Christie (D): 599 votes, 20.66 percent
Christina Hale (D): 1,081 votes, 37.28 percent
Andy Jacobs (D): 542 votes, 18.69 percent
Ralph Spelbring (D): 52 votes, 1.79 percent
Dee Thornton (D): 626 votes, 21.59 percent
Results only reflect Grant County votes cast in district
Russell Reahard (R): 285 votes, 57.93 percent
Craig Snow (R) 207 votes, 42.07 percent
Chad Harris (D): 105 votes, 100 percent
Mike Karickhoff (R) 815 votes, 100 percent
Dylan McHenry (D): 307 votes, 100 percent
Ann Vermillion (R): 3725 votes, 100 percent
Results only reflect Grant County votes cast in district
Daniel A Bragg (R): 687 votes, 44.64 percent
Anthony (Tony) Cook (R): 852 votes, 55.36 percent
Amie Neiling (D): 406 votes, 100 percent
Jeff Todd: 6,811 votes, 100 percent
Jarred L. Eib: 590 votes, 7.71 percent
David Glickfield III: 2,053 votes, 26.82 percent
Brian McLane: 1,131 votes, 17.15 percent
Jason McVicker: 3,699 votes, 48.32 percent
Grant County RecorderKathy Foy (R): 4,547 votes, 62.2 percent
Roberta (Bobbie) Solms (R): 2,763 votes, 37.80 percent
Tiffany N. Griffith (R): 4,675 votes, 67.43 percent
Richard A. Jarvis III (R): 2,258 votes, 32.57 percent
James D. Todd (R) 6,540 votes, 100 percent
Ron Mowery: 6,033 votes, 100 percent
Mark Bardsley (R): 6,362 votes, 100 percent
David M. Gault (D): 1,901 votes, 100 percent
Shane Middlesworth (R): 4,523 votes, 25.50 percent
Jonathan Perez (R): 3,129 votes, 17.64 percent
Chuck Poling (R): 3,770 votes, 21.26 percent
Mike Roorbach (R): 3,979 votes, 22.43 percent
Chris Tarlton (R): 2,335 votes, 13.17 percent
Patrick Savage: 46 votes, 32.62 percent
Brandy Swanner: 95 votes, 67.38 percent
Richard Jarvis III: 57 votes, 43.85 percent
Jerry Shull: 73 votes, 56.15 percent
Teresa Baker: 48 votes, 53.33 percent
Steve Henderson: 42 votes, 46.67 percent
Tresa Baker: 4,454 votes, 21.74 percent
Steve Henderson: 4,240 votes, 20.70 percent
Cathy Shinholt Lyons: 3,689 votes, 18.01 percent
Kevin Lyons: 3,207 votes, 15.65 percent
James McWhirt: 4,896 votes, 23.90 percent
Gary Baker: 1,199 votes, 15.65 percent
Cullen Gibson: 871 votes, 11.37 percent
Mary Gibson: 1,016 votes, 13.26 percent
Lori Gross-Reaves: 1,246 votes, 16.26 percent
Richard Hart: 1,000 votes, 13.05 percent
Ashley Hurd: 1,154 votes, 15.06 percent
Richard Jarvis III: 1,176 votes, 15.35 percent
Grant County turnout for the primary election was down more than 10 percent compared to the 2016 primary, according to unofficial results from Grant County Voter Registration.
A total of 11,314 voters out of the 44,189 current registered voters, 25.6 percent, in Grant County cast ballots in this year’s primary, while 17,602 out of 49,057, 35.88 percent, voted in the 2016 primary.
“It might have been partly a result of the pandemic and with the election being moved back and a lot of emphasis being taken off the election and on the pandemic,” Grant County Clerk Pam Harris said. “That probably did have a lot to do with it I would think.”
Even though the overall number of ballots was down, more Grant County voters voted absentee on Tuesday compared to the 2016 presidential primary. A total of 3,703 absentee ballots were cast this year, approximately 33 percent of all votes cast, while in 2016 a total of 2,721 absentee ballots were cast, approximately 15 percent of all votes.
Election results for the lower turnout municipal election in November were not finalized until after 10 p.m., but results were finalized for the primary around 9:20 p.m. Tuesday. Harris said the central count process, which verifies absentee ballots before they are counted, went faster and smoother this time around.
There were eight teams consisting of one Democrat and one Republican each in the central count area on Tuesday, up from three teams for the November municipal election, Harris said.
With Grant County’s current protocol, these central count teams are required to verify absentee ballots by hand, comparing signatures on the application with the signature on the ballot itself. Both parties must agree the signature matches, and if one or both members of a team decide they don’t match, that ballot is taken to the election board to make a final determination.
Harris said the central count teams were able to begin verifying ballots shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday and wrapped up around 8 p.m.
“We started, we sent our couriers out earlier this time and then our central count started earlier as well, and then we increased the number of teams and so they’re just moving right along,” Harris said around 6:30 p.m. when the majority of absentee ballots had been verified.
Harris said her and her team were working up to the last minute to make sure polling locations and other positions were staffed, and she was proud of the way Election Day was handled from polls opening through final results.
“I’ll tell you it feels very, very good. I am very proud of my team,” she said. “Everybody just really worked together. That mantra the county has of ‘We’re All In This Together,’ that really was saying something for this election because we all pulled together. I’m very very proud of our community and of my staff, everyone.”