Election board claims responsibility for some election day issues

The St. Joseph County Election Board met Thursday to discuss how to move forward, after many voters expressed concerns over the past election. Some of those concerns included ballot shortages, and poll location confusion.

And citizens didn't hold back Tuesday from telling the board how they felt about the problems.

"We may never know how many voters were disenfranchised that day. But I do know several were very unhappy to say the least," said a citizen.

She continued, "Unfortunately, I was not so impressed and had serious concerns regarding last week's election."

The board did admit they were at fault, but says the real issue was in the machines.

"In the past, we've always been able to use the leftover absentee ballots to run out to precincts who were short of ballots. We didn't realize that the machines that were counting the absentee, centralized absentee count, would not work in the machines out in the precincts," said Jim Korpal, the Chairman of the St. Joseph County Election Board.

Korpal also said location confusion was due in part to redistricting.

But the board agreed the only thing they can do from here is move forward. One idea they'd like to see happen is a vote center, which would centralize voters. People would be able to vote at any location in the county.

"Most of the machines after you vote will print your ballot in some format and then you simply deposit it into a vote counting machine. So as long as we don't run out of paper, we will have a ballot for every person who wants to vote. Vote centers really seem to be the answer," said Murray Winn, the Republican Election Board member.

The board said a lot of this year's election issues could be prevented with a vote center. Less poll workers would be required, and they wouldn't run out of ballots. But this idea isn't new. Last April, the board recommended vote centers. But the Common Council said no, with the close proximity to the presidential election.

Now, the board says with the strong voices behind the effort, it's likely St. Joseph county could see vote centers in the primaries of 2014.


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