The chairwoman of the Indiana Senate Elections Committee believes the uproar over a new law allowing election officials to drop uncontested races from the ballot is a lot of fuss over nothing. State Sen. Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake, co-sponsored House Enrolled Act 1242, which eliminates a requirement that even candidates without an opponent be listed on the ballot.
“It should reduce the size of the ballot,” Landske said, which she believes will save money. Though the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency projects any savings from shorter optical-scan ballots will be “minimal.”
Critics of the change say leaving candidates off the ballot is antidemocratic and likely to confuse voters who will wonder why they could only vote for certain offices. That has led election officials in Lake County, and in counties across Indiana, to announce they plan to ignore the law and list every candidate in every race, even unopposed candidates.
Landske said that’s fine with her since the text of the law says counties “may” omit uncontested races, it does not say they “shall” not include them. “They can choose to handle that however they want to,” Landske said. “There are no repercussions.”
Merrillville officials had hoped the new law would enable the town to save several thousand dollars this November by only opening polling places in the three Merrillville council districts where more than one candidate is running. It costs the town some $34,000 to open polling places town-wide, according to Councilwoman Carol Miano.
But the decision of the Lake County elections board to require uncontested races be listed on the ballot and polling places be open for citizens to select those unopposed candidates means Merrillville taxpayers won’t see any of those potential savings.
The new uncontested ballot rule takes up just a few sentences in a 68-page law that makes 31 changes to state election law, mostly form and date changes resulting from the switch to electronic voting devices in most counties.
Full Article: Landske: Keeping uncontested races on ballot up to counties.