I am more than a little concerned with our reduction of polling places for the Primary Election.
It's been said it is because it was difficult to find poll workers. The State of Indiana allows for responsible 16- and 17-year-olds to work the Primary, provided there is a unanimous vote by the Election Board for our county to adopt I.C.3-6-6-39.
Our county clerk apparently did not feel we should do this and by virtue of that fact, failed to call a meeting of the Election Board to bring said issue to a vote. This action resulted in her executive decision to not allow these young people to experience, first hand, our great election process, stating that she felt "these kids could not be sufficiently trained to work the polls."
I've worked at the polls and worked in both the clerks office and election office, and I assure you it would take but 15 minutes to teach one of these bright individuals what they need to know. I dare say that the polls would be in good hands with these energetic young people working side-by-side along seasoned workers.
These young individuals would have gladly worked and helped keep a "normalcy " to our election in an otherwise "un-normal" time.
The state is encouraging the counties to avoid using adults over the age of 65 because of COVID-19. I contend condensing two or more townships into one polling place will become a hardship for some, and for others an unnecessary possible exposure from the added volume of people congregated at one place in the same 12-hour time frame.
Notifying our County Chairman (D) on the day of the deadline for submitting names of poll workers combined with a failure to take responsibility of notifying these young people that they were, indeed, not going to be allowed to work, is a direct dereliction of duty by the office of clerk.
Regardless who might volunteer to to notify these young people of the clerk's decision does not remove the clerk from her responsibility. But the one thing I want everyone to be wary of is: Do not let your local, convenient polling places be taken away in the fall.
Let your clerk know you want to retain your local polling places in the fall, for we must encourage voting and make the voting process as simple as can be to all eligible voters.
- Judith L Wahlman
(Editor's note: While voters can no longer apply for absentee ballots, voters still have the option of early voting at the Jennings County Courthouse clerk's office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to noon Monday.)