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Scramble to fill poll positions


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Like a candidate making a final-day run to win an election, the Bartholomew County Election Board made a similar successful dash to fill 27 poll worker spots in a 24-hour span.

The gap was narrowed to 10 by the time the election board met in an emergency meeting at noon Friday, Bartholomew County Clerk Tami Hines said.

And four hours later, all open positions had been filled, said Priscilla Scalf, Bartholomew County Democratic Party chairwoman.

The late push had been securing workers to be selected by the local Democratic Party.

“Many (Democrats) have said they’d be more willing to work the general election than the primary,” said Julie Schuette, who serves as the Democrat Party’s representative on the board.

While three Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination in order to square off against Republican 6th District U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, there are no contested local Democratic races on the May 6 ballot.

The election board adopted a resolution Friday that would allow 16- and 17-year-old students to fill open positions in the event of Tuesday morning no-shows at the precincts.

That is permissible by state law if the participating students have maintained a passing grade-point average and obtained the permission of their principal and parents to fill the paid positions.

Students are only allowed to work as clerks, Hines said.

If the teens work Tuesday, they would likely be assigned to precincts with traditionally low voter turnout such as Hartsville and Edinburgh, Hines said.

Another option allowed by the Indiana Election Division and discussed by the board was eliminating the position of clerks at each polling place, allowing their duties to be absorbed by inspectors and judges.

However, since that option would require doing away with GOP clerks who already have been recruited, board members decided not to pursue that alternative.

Schuette said she likes the idea of using older teens because it exposes younger people to politics and government.

A shortage of precinct workers is nothing new to either parties, Hines said.

While both major parties were scheduled to have hired all poll workers by April 15, the Republicans were unable to fill their slate until last week, she said.

This is the final year for precinct voting in Bartholomew County. Starting with 2015 city elections, the county will switch to vote centers.

During the 2016 presidential election, manning 17 countywide vote centers will require far fewer people than the 245 positions now needed at 66 precincts, Hines said.

An analysis released earlier this year showed the county will save at least $20,000 per election by not hiring as many poll workers.

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