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Election board addresses fairness issues

The Harrison County Election Board met Tuesday, Oct. 6, to clarify issues from its previous meeting (held Sept. 16) among other items.
Board member Gordon Ingle questioned the start time of the previous meeting, whether items discussed and approved should have been allowed, since it wasn’t on the agenda, and also what attendees to public meetings can or can’t do.
Ingle said he sent a proxy (Barbara Kincaid) to be there for the testing of the voting machines.
‘I’m asking, as a board member, to be fully informed of the agenda,’ he said.
Board member Maryland Austin, who succeeded Larry Shickles in May, said, if someone is on the board, they need to be at the meetings, if they’re around.
Austin was not at the previous meeting either because she was out of the country.
Austin said Indiana’s Open Door Law does not prohibit adding to or changing an agenda as the meeting progresses.
‘If I would have known anything else was on the agenda (besides testing of voting machines), I wouldn’t have had a proxy,’ Ingle said.
Ingle said he wanted communication and fairness on the board.
The discussion at the previous meeting centered on when the clerk’s department would open for absentee voting for the upcoming town elections and also the compensation for absentee voting poll workers.
Harrison County Clerk Sally Whitis, who sits on the board because of her elected position, said she also didn’t know the issue was going to be brought up before hand.
Whitis also said it was her fault the wording ‘any other business’ wasn’t on the agenda.
As for the start-time issue, Ingle said he received a call at 9:20 a.m. from the clerk’s office asking where he was, because the meeting started at 9, while he was under the impression it began at 10.
Whitis said the testing of the voting machines didn’t start until well after 10.
Ingle also questioned attendees at meetings and what they can or can’t do.
‘The public has a right to attend but not speak,’ he said.
Austin said they are allowed to speak if asked to by board members.
‘If we allow people from the audience to speak on a regular basis, I want to know that to make sure I have someone from our party there as well,’ Ingle, the Democrat representative on the board, said.
Whitis said Shickles was present at the meeting to help with the process because, as a first-term clerk, she wanted the help.
Shickles notified the board that a resolution had to be created for absentee-voting hours or else they’d be required to be open for voting every day during full clerk’s office hours.
Austin said there’s no policy regarding people attending and/or speaking at the meeting.
‘It gives the appearance of an extra board member,’ Ingle said. ‘Bad public perception.’
Absentee voting is open for all town elections each Tuesday and Thursday this month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the clerk’s office, as well as Saturday, Oct. 31, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 2, from 8 a.m. to noon.
Poll-worker training will take place Thursday, Oct. 22, at 2 and 6 p.m.
Elections in the Harrison County towns of Corydon, Lanesville, New Amsterdam and Palmyra, as well as Milltown, which is half in Harrison County and half in Crawford County, will take place Tuesday, Nov. 3.