If getting people to vote wasn’t hard enough already, a new Indiana law will further stifle democratic spirit on Nov. 8. The measure removes from the ballot municipal candidates who are unopposed. What’s disturbing is that the idea became law in the first place.
In hindsight, key legislative leaders call it a mistake. “I don’t like it,” said Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, who as House Speaker signed off on an election law package that included the offending language. “It’s terrible public policy.” He and Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, say they’ll fix the law next session. But that won’t happen in time for Election Day when folks in some parts will show up to vote — and find little to do.
In Johnson County, voters may spend more time parking, walking into a polling site and checking in than they will casting ballots, Clerk Sue Anne Misiniec told the Daily Journal. New Whiteland and Trafalgar won’t hold elections because there are no contested candidates.
In Evansville, voters in First and Fourth wards won’t see their county council candidates listed because they are unopposed. The incumbents — a Republican and a Democrat — wanted to face the voters. But when Vanderburgh County Clerk Susan K. Kirk asked the state election division for permission, she was told the law gave her no option.
In contrast, in Wayne County a judge granted an injunction allowing two unopposed candidates for Richmond city offices to get their names printed.
The Allen County Election Board cited that ruling as precedent when it decided to go ahead and place uncontested candidates on the ballot in New Haven and Fort Wayne. One of the unopposed candidates is New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald, who is running for re-election and wanted voters to have a say.
Across the state, almost nobody seems to like the law except some county clerks, who lobbied for the measure to save money in a time of tight election budgets. The measure does not apply to statewide or federal elections.
“There are savings,” said Rep. Kathy Richardson, R-Noblesville, who authored HB 1242, the election mega-bill. According to the Legislative Services Agency, keeping names off ballots “may save a minimal amount on printing expenses for shorter ballot cards.” In communities where there is no competition, polling places have no need to open, which could save tens of thousands, Richardson said.
Full Article: Election law slipped by GOP leaders – South Bend Tribune.