By Valerie Werkmeister
A $3,500 additional fund request by the Posey County Election Board informed Posey County Council members that the county is under federal scrutiny for irregularities on voter poll lists.
David Whitten addressed the council to request the additional funds on behalf of the election board.
“The additional funding is necessary. The most important reason is that the State of Indiana is one of 12 states who are defendants in a federal lawsuit alleging multiple violations of the National Voter Registration Act. Posey County is one of several counties in the state of Indiana which is being monitored by the Office of the Secretary of State. The Posey County Clerk and the Posey County election Board have been put on notice that there are irregularities that are cause for concern. One example is that there are over 19,000 names on voter poll lists in a county with a population of approximately 27 [27,000] residents. Also, it was reported to us that the last election in Posey County was monitored by federal officials,” Whitten stated.
Whitten explained the election office and the election board have met regularly since the beginning of the year to make the necessary changes imposed upon the office to become compliant with state and federal law. They also discuss ways to make elections more voter-friendly and cost-effective.
Posey County Council President Bob Gentil pointed out that the $500 amount requested at budget time was funded by the council. Whitten acknowledged the amount is usually sufficient during off election years. However, as the board works to ensure compliance, funds are needed, in part, for compensation of their work.
Whitten elaborated that the 12 states have joined together to have the lawsuit dismissed, but a federal judge denied the request.
“The election board and the election office are doing everything that they can to try to remove those names, but it takes a process that is extremely costly. There have been over 5,000 letters sent out to names that we know are no longer here, but the law requires us to do that twice by certified mail return request and then it has to go through another election cycle before those names can even be removed,” Whitten said.
In the future, the election board may seek to use electronic poll books which are a direct link to the Secretary of State’s office. Whitten said during elections, there would be no doubt whether a person is registered to vote.
“The use of an electronic poll book would make elections go very, very smooth,” Whitten said.
The additional fund request will be advertised and the council will make a decision on the matter during their June meeting.
Posey County Prosecutor Travis Clowers requested permission for a $3,000 transfer from the Infraction Referral Program to pay for five Tasers that will be used by Indiana State Troopers patrolling the county.
“A lot of the speeding tickets that raises money for the Infraction Referral Program are written by state police officers. This was an opportunity, as I saw it, to invest in those troopers, maybe make them a little safer and give them an extra tool to work with. So I really appreciate the opportunity to do that,” Clowers said.
Clowers explained the funds come directly from that program, which he oversees, and will not come from the county general fund. The council approved his request.
The council also approved a $219 reimbursement to the law books fund and a $202 transfer to the task force. The task force recovered the $202 during an investigation.
The council approved a $1,150 request from Larry Robb of the Emergency Management Agency to purchase a new camper shell for his truck.
Council attorney Beth McFadin-Higgins informed the council that Cargill had filed the CF-1 form to request tax abatement. They are currently receiving an abatement and will appear before the council in June to report on their status.
The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 11, at 9 a.m. in the Hovey House.
By Valerie Werkmeister
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