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 Election Board Unhappy with Proposed Ballot

October 10, 2007 - After several weeks of meetings that saw few problems and steady progress toward what may be the town's first election in more than two decades, members of the Knightstown Election board came face-to-face Monday morning with what may have been their biggest obstacle yet: a confusing paper ballot they didn't like.

"If we have to use this ballot, the whole day's going to be used up telling people how to use it," board member Randy Riggs said. Board Chairmen Marion Atkins agreed and said he thought it might be necessary to employ additional poll clerks on Election Day to answer questions voters would likely have about the ballot.

Both Riggs and Atkins complained about the inclusion of unnecessary items on the ballot, which had been prepared by Boyce Forms/Systems and was still in draft form. For example, there were columns for both write-in candidates and Democrat candidates, even though no write-ins or Democrats declared their candidacies for any of the three contested town council races. Boyce had also listed the Ward 2 town council seat on the ballot even though Wards 2 and 5 are not part of this year's election.

"This is somewhat disappointing," Riggs said. "I don't think it's acceptable as it is, unless state code says it has to be that way."

In addition to removing unneeded language, Riggs also suggested that the ballot would be easier to read if the political offices were listed in columns and the candidates' names were listed down the left-hand side of the ballot. Boyce had listed the offices down the left-hand side and listed the candidates in columns according to respective party affiliation.

Atkins said he thought the goal should be to make the ballot as simple as possible, while still complying with what the law requires. He also noted that a simple ballot will be easier for officials to tally once voting ends.

The board's third member, Knightstown Clerk-Treasurer Judy Haines, telephoned Boyce during Monday's meeting. A company representative told board members she would need to check with state election officials with respect to some of the changes board members proposed, but she did agree that the references to the Ward 2 council seat could be removed, as could the column for write-in candidates.

Following the phone call to Boyce, Haines telephoned the clerk-treasurer in Middletown and asked her to fax a copy of the ballot they're using for their town election this fall. If the format used by Middletown is acceptable, Atkins said he would prefer to have the printing company they use do Knightstown's ballots as well in order to keep the business in the county.

Local citizen Carolyn Myers attended a portion of Monday's meeting and asked the board about absentee balloting procedures. Town Hall will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 27, and Saturday, November 3, for voting by absentee ballot. Additionally, absentee ballots may be mailed to the Knightstown Clerk-Treasurer between now and noon November 5, the day before the election. Persons wanting more information about the election or absentee voting should contact Haines at 345-5977 during regular business hours.

The Knightstown Election Board will meet at 9 a.m. Thursday morning to continue planning for the town's November 6 election. The meeting is open to the public and will be held in the town council's chambers at Knightstown Town Hall, 26 S. Washington St.


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