Harper underscores Porter County voters’ need for early voting plan

Harper underscores Porter County voters’ need for early voting plan

Amid rising concerns regarding absentee ballot return wait-time, poll worker training and ballot security, Democratic nominee for Indiana Secretary of State Jim Harper outlined the importance of having a plan to vote early at a Valparaiso press conference Wednesday afternoon. Noting the current Secretary of State’s lackadaisical attitude toward reforming state election processes, he is urging all voters to have an early voting plan, especially if they have requested and not received their absentee ballot.

“It is clear by the number of issues in Porter County alone that local clerks don’t have the resources needed to perform their operations to the fullest extent,” said Harper. “We are hoping that in the final two weeks, both voters and election officials are able to mitigate some of these issues by working together and creating early voting plans.”

A number of complaints have arisen surrounding the length of time for absentee ballot requests to be filled. For example, reports from voters in Porter County indicate that absentee ballot applications may not be filed at the clerk’s office until over 10 days past when an application was received. And from there, it takes just as long for the ballot to be mailed back to the voter.

Harper is hopeful that all county clerks are using new and improved mail visibility efforts from the United States Post Office. The USPS Service Type Identifiers (STIDs) are used specifically for ballots and used to identify ballots on-hand, and enable improved ballot tracking in the mailstream.

He also outlined the importance for voters to have an early voting plan and provided helpful tips such as:

1. If a voter receives a mailed ballot but does not believe there is enough time to mail the voted ballot back to the county election board to be received on or before Election Day, the voter, a member of the voter’s household, a bonded courier, or the voter’s attorney in fact can hand deliver the ballot to the county election board.

2. If a voter has not received their requested ballot, the voter can vote early or on Election Day. Early voting information can be found at www.IndianaVotesEarly.com and Election Day polling locations can be found at  www.gettothepolls.com.

3. If a voter has not receive a requested ballot by mail and is homebound, they should call the Clerk’s Office at 219-465-3450 as soon as possible to schedule a traveling board to come to their home.

4. If a traveling board is not available, a homebound voter can request a replacement ballot from the county election board.

Harper noted a number of other concerns surrounding application security, namely returned ballots are not being stored under bipartisan lock and key as required by state law, as well as a lack of poll worker training specifically within Porter County’s election administration process.

“This is what happens when our chief elections official insists on digging their heels into the ground  for two years, rather than using all resources available to modernize our elections,” Harper continued. “It is clear that Porter County doesn’t have the resources they need nor the oversight from our Secretary of State to streamline this process. It’s unfortunate that it has reached a point where the onus is on voters to ensure their ballot is counted as cast, but I’m hopeful that with the concerted effort to plan ahead voters will be able to have the confidence in this election they deserve.”

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