The Starke County Election Board met Tuesday morning to discuss some issues that arose during the Primary Election.
Pat Mitchell, who has been a member of the Starke County Election Board for many years, tendered his resignation. He cited declining health as his reason for resigning, but noted that he’s enjoyed serving the county in this capacity for many years.
During the board member’s discussion, the main concern that was brought to President Dan Bridegroom’s attention was the candidate supporters and their proximity to the polling location. According to law, candidate supporters are not allowed to be closer than 50 ft. from the chute in which voters are lined up to cast a vote. There were complaints that candidate supporters would approach the voter on the way to the polling place from their vehicle and reportedly went as far as “harassing” the voter in the chute while preparing to cast a vote.
There were some supporters who reportedly left one polling area after being warned of their behavior and went to another location to continue that behavior.
If supporters are becoming a nuisance, they can be asked to leave and if the sheriff’s department is called, those in violation of the law can be arrested.
The election board members discussed the issue at length where they decided more intense training will be given to the polling location sheriff to police that behavior a little more closely.
The election board also reviewed poll worker conduct on election day. There were complaints of workers leaving the polling place, which is not to occur, and residents who were not voting were allowed inside the polling place to use the bathroom or for another purpose. By law, the only people that are allowed inside a polling location on election day are the poll workers and the voters. In addition, there were complains that poll workers were sleeping or using cell phones, iPads or computers while working the polls. Utilizing those devices while working as a poll worker is against policy. Those issues will be addressed in time for the General Election in November.
The board also voted to increase the food vendor expense from $25 to $35. That will be presented to the Starke County Commissioners for final approval.