TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– The Vigo County Board of Elections approved a motion to make changes to the format of the November ballot during an emergency meeting Monday, one day after a motion to make a similar change failed.
Concerns were raised about the ballot during routine testing on Monday, Oct. 3rd. Officials realized you had to scroll down on the electronic ballot to see all of the candidates’ names for certain races.
After this was discovered, an emergency meeting was held on Sunday, Oct. 9 by the Board of Elections. A motion was made to amend the ballots, but neither Vigo County clerk Brad Newman nor Republican appointee to the board, Brian Garcia, supported the motion, causing it to fail.
On Monday, however, Newman made the announcement that his office had reallocated about $32,000 in their budget to reformat the ballot.
Newman said he decided to make the change in response to reactions from candidates in the upcoming election.
“I don’t want, after the fact, anybody to be able to say, ‘he lost because of this,’ or “he lost because of that,’” he said. “Excuses are what this is about. We did everything we were supposed to.”
Newman emphasized the changes were not being made because of any fault in their process or the law.
“I want to start by saying the ballot made by my office meets every requirement of title three, and the Indiana Code is also approved by the state,” Newman said.
He said this played a factor in his decision to not support the motion at the meeting Sunday.
“The wording in the motion is that there was an error made by us, and there was not. I’m not going to second a motion that’s not well written, and that’s inaccurate,” he said. “There was no error, there was no malicious intent. There was nothing to that effect and had they worded it differently, I think they would’ve got a second and it would’ve been approved unanimously.”
Newman said the main reason for the decision on Monday was because he didn’t want this issue to overshadow the election.
“The election should be about the qualifications of the individual candidates, and their abilities and skills to perform their duties. These offices are important for us, and growing in Vigo County,” he said.
The Board approved the motion at the meeting unanimously. Newman was joined by newly-appointed Republican representative Jerry Arnold, who replaced Brian Garcia, and Board President and Democratic representative John Kesler.
Kesler, who called for the original emergency meeting, said he was happy to see the situation resolved.
“I just felt like it’s something that needed to be amended, and in my language, corrected. I think we’ve done it now. We don’t want the voters to be confused, we don’t want them to make any mistakes, and I think this now solves that problem,” he said.
They passed a second motion as well, saying voting wouldn’t begin until the changes were implemented. However, Kesler said this was a precaution, and early voting should proceed Wednesday, as scheduled.
WTWO reached out to Vigo County Republican Chairman Randy Gentry for comment, and he provided a statement, saying, “We’ve made this way more complicated than it has to be. We needed to do what was right, which is make the ballot as simple as possible to use for the voters. It’s not a political situation.” He also confirmed that Garcia, the Republican appointee on the board of elections who did not support the motion was removed from his position.
WTWO also reached out to the chairman of the county’s Democratic party, Joe Etling. He provided a statement saying he hoped a change would occur, and, “This is a matter of fundamental fairness and common sense.”