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Get ready, 2014’s an election year

The new year is here and with it comes mid-term elections nationally and many high-profile county races to be decided locally in first the May primary and then the November General Election.
Candidates can begin signing up to run for offices today (Wednesday) in the Harrison County Clerk’s office, 300 N. Capitol Ave., in the courthouse. The deadline to file is noon Friday, Feb. 7.
Filing forms can be downloaded at
In Harrison County, the sheriff seat will be up for grabs. One-term Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye, a Republican, is expected to seek re-election.
The last time the sheriff was up for election four years ago, 10 candidates ‘ seven Democrats ‘ filled the primary ballot. Seelye eventually defeated deputy Gary Gilley in the General Election by more than 2,300 votes.
Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk, a Republican, will be up for re-election after a narrow victory (7,596 to 7,154) in 2010 against former two-term prosecutor Dennis Byrd. At 25, Schalk was the youngest person to be elected prosecutor in Indiana.
The Superior Court Judge position, held by Democrat Roger D. Davis, will also be on the ballot this year.
One board of commissioners seat, District 3, will be elected. The seat is currently held by Republican Jim Klinstiver, who is completing his first term.
On the county council, four seats will be on the ballot: District 1 (Blue River, Morgan and Spencer townships), currently held by Republican Phil Smith, who defeated Democrat Leslie Robertson by 40 votes in 2010; District 2 (Franklin and Jackson townships), held by Republican Gary Davis; District 3 (Harrison Township), held by Democrat Gordon Pendleton, a winner by just 71 votes in 2010 over Jeremy R. Shireman; and District 4 (Boone, Heth, Posey, Taylor, Webster and Washington townships), held by five-term Republican Ralph E. Sherman.
The following seats will also be up for election in the county with the current officeholder in parenthesis: auditor (Republican Karen Engleman), assessor, (Democrat Lorena A. Stepro) and treasurer (Democrat Carol Ann Hauswald).
Also within the county, all township trustee positions and advisory board seats will be on the ballot.
Statewide races locals will find on the ballot include the State Senate District 47 race, which appears to pit six-term incumbent Democrat Richard Young Jr. against former Harrison County Circuit Court Judge H. Lloyd (Tad) Whitis, a Republican.
The District 70 State Representative seat, currently held by Rhonda Rhoads, R-Corydon, is up as is the District 73 seat held by Steve Davisson, R-Salem.
The Indiana Ninth District Congressional seat also is up for election. It is currently held by Republican Todd Young of Bloomington.
The Primary Election will be Tuesday, May 6, and the General Election will take place Tuesday, Nov. 4.
For more information or any voter registration inquiries, call Harrison County Clerk Sally Whitis at 738-4289.
Voter registration forms updated
Indiana released new voter registration forms late last year.
Secretary of State Connie Lawson said that these ‘improved’ forms are to help decrease the possibility of voter registration fraud by tracking the chain of custody for voter registration applications.
‘By creating a custody trail, we are providing county clerks with the tools they need to stop fraudulent registrations that undermine the integrity of our election process,’ Lawson said. ‘In previous elections, we’ve had fraudulent voter registration forms submitted for Jimmy Johns and Mickey Mouse. Most of the time, these applications are mixed in with legitimate applications collected by groups registering large amounts of voters and then turned in to county voter registration offices just before the registration deadline. The new information required by these forms will give clerks the ability to follow up with the person who submitted the application to ensure the forms were correctly and lawfully filled out.’
The updated registration form includes a new section for individuals who collect voter registration applications to document their name, address and the date they received the completed application. The newly registered voter will also receive a receipt with the name and address of the individual who took custody of the application and the date the transaction occurred.
If a person’s application is given to another person but, for whatever reason never arrives at a county voter registration office, these changes will help the county assist that person in registering to vote. The additional information required by the new form can also help the county voter registration office identify any patterns of suspicious activity or clear violations of election law.
The new Indiana voter registration forms also remind groups and individuals who register voters of their own responsibility to protect the election process and prevent disenfranchisement of voters who have placed their trust in these groups or individuals. By putting their name on the application, individuals collecting voter registration forms will be more likely to review the application to ensure it is correctly filled out and filed in a timely manner.
Individuals collecting voter registration applications who receive an application they believe to be false or fraudulent are now required to submit the application to the appropriate county election office with a statement sworn to under penalties of perjury, indicating why they believe the application to be fraudulent, to alert county officials that a violation of election law may have occurred.
In the past, county voter registration offices in Indiana have reported frequent ‘hoarding and dumping’ of voter registration applications. Before this year, individuals or groups could hoard voter registration applications received from voters for weeks or even months before submitting them to county voter registration offices. Large numbers of these applications were then dumped on county offices just before the registration deadline to help conceal ‘bogus’ applications or as a campaign strategy designed to benefit a candidate, not the voters.
Beginning with this year’s election, all applications collected from another person must be turned into the county voter registration office or the Indiana Election Division no later than noon 10 days of receipt of the application or the deadline to submit applications under state law, whichever occurs first.
These changes in the voter registration process were enacted by the 2013 Indiana General Assembly as part of Senate Enrolled Act 519. The updated forms were approved by the bi-partisan Indiana Election Commission, with assistance from the bi-partisan Indiana Election Division under the guidance of co-directors Brad King and Trent Deckard.