County Clerk expresses concern after recent election


EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)– A Vanderburgh County official wants to make changes to the way some voters cast ballots. Vanderburgh county clerk Carla Hayden says some people refuse to vote using the machines so they received a provisional paper ballot.

Hayden says that’s not the intended use for this type of ballot. Provisional ballots are meant to be used by people whose voting eligibility is in question. Maybe they aren’t registered or maybe they forgot their ID. But she says being uncomfortable with the polling machine is not a reason. She now wants to see if she can keep this from becoming a trend.

During the 2019 election, more than 16 thousand votes were cast in Vanderburgh County. Of that, around 15 of them were votes written and put in envelopes like this one. Provisional ballots, a way for the voter to get their opinion in even if their eligibility is in question. But for those counting the votes– this can be a lengthy process.

“If someone does cast a provisional ballot then we have 10 days from the election day to investigate that claim,” County Clerk Carla Hayden says. “Then the election board meets when we go to certify the election and they will look into the issue and see if it’s been cleared up.”

And this is all before anyone even looks at the the vote inside the envelope.

“If we decide it’s going to count then we have to open that envelopes the votes get transferred onto a legitimate ballot and that ballot gets counted,” Hayden explains.

She says during this last election three people asked for this ballot because they didn’t trust the machine.

“Right now the way the legislation is written the way the law’s written this is not a legitimate reason to vote. There are reasons listed in the statute that are legitimate reasons to vote a provisional ballot this is not one of them.”

But not everyone sees the problem Hayden is explaining. Vanderburgh county republican party chairman Wayne Parke says votes are votes.

“I am against trying to decrease anything that might deter voters from voting,” Parke explains.

And he’s heard complaints before about the polling machines.

“Whenever I am out pushing for voter turn out one of the things that is said to me is that ‘you know i just don’t really like those voting machines’,” Parke says.

For him, the bottom line is, the county needs more people to vote.

“Vanderburgh County has real problem with getting voters out to vote in that we only had about 20% to turn out in the city election and there’s reasons why people don’t vote,” Parke explains.

Hayden says just like every other provisional ballot it was vetted.

“We made sure that they were otherwise eligible to vote and they were. These people were otherwise eligible to vote. There’s no reason why they couldn’t vote it on the machine that day,” Hayden says.

Right now there hasn’t been any change to the language explaining provisional ballots. It’s just an idea by the county clerk. But she does say people who want to vote on paper always have the option to vote by mail.

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(This story was originally published on December 2, 2019)

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