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Rokita asks for comments on state election reform plan

Rokita asks for comments on state election reform plan
Rokita asks for comments on state election reform plan
Harrison Circuit Court Clerk (and county election board chair) Carole Gaither talks Friday with Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita about training for precinct election boards and access for the handicapped to the polls. (Photo by Randy West)

Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita is serious about election reform in Indiana and he’d like to know what you think should be done.
Rokita, 33, was in Corydon Friday to promote a 51-page Preliminary Indiana State Election Plan, which, he says, is the most important groundbreaking election reform effort in Indiana since the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Indiana State Election Plan is the work product of the Vote Indiana Team, a diverse, ‘tripartisan’ group of 28 Hoosiers whom Rokita called together in February to begin work.
The Vote Indiana Team consists of representative of three political parties (Democrat, Republican and Libertarian), the Indiana General Assembly, minority groups, military voters, people with disabilities, county election and voter registration officials, and the media.
Rokita said he hopes the plan will serve as the blueprint for future Indiana elections for years to come. He wants everyone who’s interested to study the plan and send him their comments, questions and criticism.
The plan covers a wide range of issues, including: voter education; training for election workers; statewide voter registration; ‘provisional voting’; providing access for the disabled; using federal funds to comply with federal requirements; distribution of federal funds to local governments; state election plan performance measures; preventing voter fraud.
Rokita said Indiana has been a leader in election reform, which began with the Bipartisan Task Force on Election Reform in 2000. However, many of the task force recommendations passed by the General Assembly were not implemented due to budget restraints. But election reform ‘ a big issue throughout the country following the 2000 presidential vote debacle in Florida ‘ has been hurt here by fiscal problems, Rokita said.
The federal government had promised Indiana up to $55 million over the next few years under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, but, thus far, the state has gotten only $5 million, for election administration. The state must submit its election reform plan before any more federal money will be forthcoming.
Rokita said he’d like to see a statewide voter file system that sees across county borders, hooks into the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Social Security Administration and the Dept. of Health files (to check on death certificates); emphasize poll worker training and voter education, especially with new voting machines that will replace lever and punch card voting, and ‘provisional voting, which means you will be allowed to voter later if you are turned away for some reason at the polls.
To see the plan, access Sec. of State Todd Rokita’s Web site at www.sos.IN.gov.
Public comment is invited in writing to Rokita at the Statehouse, 200 W. Washington St., Room 201, Indianapolis, IN 46204. Comments can also be mailed to [email protected], or call 1-317-234-VOTE, or contact the Indiana Election Division (toll-free) at 1-800-622-4941 (TTD) or by fax at 1-317-233-3283.
The public comment period on the plan runs until July 3. After that, Rokita said, the Vote Indiana Team, using public comment as guide, will make any necessary corrections or additions to the plan before submitting it to the federal government.
After Rokita left Corydon, he had six other stops scheduled before he went to his hometown of Munster in northwest Indiana for the weekend. He is 33. When he was 32, he became the second youngest person elected Indiana Secretary of State, after U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh.

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