TERRE HAUTE —
Vigo County officials are making some last-minute schedule changes to prepare for the May 8 primary election, while Democratic and Republican county leaders are encouraging voters to select their party’s ballot at the polls.
Vigo County has 87 voting precincts but uses 85 polling sites, as some precincts are combined. Of the polling sites, 17 are located in schools of the Vigo County School Corp. While that has not been a problem, this year has presented a small twist for Vigo County Clerk Patricia Mansard.
“There all kinds of things that can impact election administration and the weather is one,” Mansard said.
Ironically it is good — not bad — weather that caused Mansard Friday to reschedule big rental trucks used to move election equipment.
“For the first time since 2004, Vigo County schools did not cancel school and do not have a make-up day for snow,” Mansard said. “That means the schools will be closed May 7, which is the day we had planned to deliver voting machines.”
Mansard credited Ray Azar, the school corporation’s director of student services, with notifying her via email to “allow us time to react. We have got to refigure [the schedule] and will deliver [voting equipment] on Friday,” May 4, the clerk said.
The clerk said heavy rains, about 10 years ago, caused election workers difficulty in getting to the polls on time. “Weather can make an impact one way or the other,” Mansard said.
The clerk recalled a saying from Lee Larrison, a former county clerk and former mayor of Terre Haute. “I remember him saying, ‘I know you want a perfect election, but I will tell you there will never be one.’ Elections are stressful because everything does need to be done perfectly,” Mansard said.
Unlike the November general elections, Indiana voters in the primary must choose a Republican or Democratic Party ballot to select candidates.
Joseph Etling, chairman of the Vigo County Democratic Party, and Bill Treadway, chairman of the Vigo County Republican Party, each say their ballot offers voters a choice.
Treadway said with Republican Mitt Romney sweeping New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware and Connecticut in mid-April — and with Rick Santorum out of the race and Newt Gingrich to follow — Indiana will not play as big a role in the primary election.
Vigo County voters will still see Santorum and Gingrich listed as candidates on the GOP ballot as it is too late to remove their names.
“We still have a hotly contested senate race between Richard Lugar and Richard Mourdock. It could come down to counties like Vigo County that play a pivotal role in that race,” Treadway said. While Vigo County tends to vote heavily Democrat on a local level, Treadway said, “on the national and state level, we are more in the middle.
“We are a county that can go either way with a candidate and there are a handful of counties like that I think will be pivotal for the senate race,” Treadway said.
In addition the Eighth District congressional race may attract voters between incumbent Rep. Larry D. Bucshon and challenger Kristi Risk, plus a three-candidate race for state representative of District 42. That race is between Jim Meece, Alan P. Morrison and Bill Webster.
“We do have contested Republican races. There is a reason for people to come out and take a Republican ballot in the primary. These are important races,” Treadway said.
On the county level, Republicans have no candidate in eight races. However, four candidates are seeking three at-large seats on the Vigo County Council. They include Treadway, Craig A. Bales, Steve Ellis and Lonnie Moody II.
Republicans and Democrats have until noon July 3 to fill a vacancy from the primary election for the general election. The Libertarian Party has until June 20 to file a notice it will fill a vacancy on June 30. There are no Libertarian candidates in the primary election in Vigo County.
Treadway said Vigo County Republicans “will take a wait and see approach to see who wins in the primary. If a candidate feels there is a competitive spot out there, they will file their name” for the general election, Treadway said.
Democratic Party chairman Etling said the race for Vigo County Council, which has eight candidates seeking three open at-large seats, will draw the most interest among county-level races in the primary election.
“That is because of the number of candidates and the high quality of the candidates and their energy and hard work to their individual campaigns,” Etling said.
Etling said Democrats at political events he has attended are predominately discussing how teachers and organized labor “have been treated at the state level.” Etling said party members are discussing the race for governor and seats in the Indiana House of Representatives.
“There are great [Democratic] candidates, who are working very hard, in the District 46 state representative race. That district takes in several counties and sometimes it doesn’t get all the attention in Vigo County as you may think, but I think that will be an interesting race to follow on election night,” Etling said.
Those candidates are Charles (Chuck) Toth, James R. (Jim) Mann II and Larry D. Barker.
Etling said the Democratic Party ballot “offers a lot of choices with very good candidates, who have spent a lot of time campaigning to get issues addressed with voters. I think people who take a Democrat ballot have offices from the top to the bottom that are, for the most part, contested and obviously can impact [voters’] lives on a day to day basis,” he said.
“We encourage voters to be informed as they can before they go to the voting booth and to vote Democrat,” Etling said.
“We want to encourage voter turnout to be heavy,” Etling added. “We are doing all we can to communicate that to people and that is the objective, no matter how they vote, that they vote. It is so important. We tell our young people that. I know I tell my children that and we try to impress that upon everybody,” Etling said.
Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or email@example.com.
Primary Election Information
• Vigo County has 74,040 registered voters for the primary election; however, 707 are listed as inactive, making the county’s active voting list 73,330 voters. An inactive voter has had no voter activity and has been sent a registration acknowledgment by county officials, which was returned undeliverable, said Vada Long, director of the Vigo County Voter Registration office.
• The primary election also has uncontested races. On the GOP ticket, John Cunningham is seeking the District 43 state representative seat; incumbent Rep. Bruce Borders is seeking re-election to the District 45 state representative seat; incumbent Rep. Bob Heaton is seeking re-election to the District 46 state representative seat.
• Republicans do not have candidates for judge of the Vigo County Division 6 Superior Court, county clerk, county auditor, county recorder, county treasurer, county coroner or the District 2 and District 3 county commissioner seats.
• Unopposed Democrats in the Primary Election include Mark C. Spelbring for the District 42 state representative seat; incumbent Rep. Clyde Kersey for the District 43 state representative seat; and incumbent Rep. Kreg Battles for the District 45 state representative seat.
• Other unopposed are incumbent Michael J. Lewis for judge of the Vigo County Division 6 Superior Court; incumbent Timothy M. Seprodi for county auditor; incumbent Nancy S. Allsup for county recorder; Susan Siebenmorgen Amos for county coroner; and incumbent Paul Mason for the District 3 county commissioner seat.
• Even more info on the 2012 Primary Election is offered in today’s edition of the Tribune-Star. Find the T-S special election preview section with today’s paper.