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Lucas: Dedication of clerks leads to smooth elections

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EidtPerspLucas-sigThe 2012 elections are finally over. And while I think most people, with the possible exception of mail carriers and holiday Scrooges, are happy to have gift catalogs replace political flyers in their mailboxes, I would bet that no group is happier to see election season come to an end than the county clerks. But before we close the book on the 2012 election, I’d like to give a shout-out to the election officials and their staffs – the men and women who made it all possible.

Honestly, I had not paid that much attention in the past to the behind-the-scenes work of putting on an election. I showed up, I voted, and I then waited for the election returns. But this year there was so much talk about early voting with news clips showing people lining up weeks ahead of time to vote – it seemed to create a sense of urgency surrounding the process.

As I began to pay more attention, and I read the daily emails I received from the Marion County Clerk’s Office, I began to realize that, at least in an election year, Marion County Clerk Beth White and her communications director, Angie Nussmeyer, have got to be among the hardest-working people in the city of Indianapolis. I’m sure that their counterparts in other cities work equally as hard, but Marion is my home county and, therefore, my base of experience.

Let’s look at the numbers. Marion County has 640,699 registered voters. Of those who exercise their right to vote – and given the lines we saw this year it seems like that was a respectable number – 300 polling places operate to facilitate the process. Nearly 40,000 registered voters visited Indianapolis’ City-County Building prior to the election to vote early. I was among those people, and I think it was that experience that cemented my impression.

My son came home from college the weekend before the election in order to vote, and I decided to accompany him downtown on that Saturday morning. Yes, there was a line, but it moved quickly, and I think that was due in part to the individuals manning the flow. At 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, I was surprised to see Clerk White there greeting voters and moving them to the next available check-in point. Angie was at the other end, ready to take the completed ballot. I learned that they are ALWAYS present when early voting is open. That adds up to some very long hours. Here is the kicker: less than 72 hours before the official Election Day, and both were still smiling and ringing the bell for first-time voters.

Regardless of how one feels about the outcome of the election, I think it is important to recognize that clerks and other election officials throughout Indiana work hard to enhance the voting experience. I am truly impressed by the effort I see being put into this process. When things go wrong on Election Day, blame stops right at the doorstep of the clerk’s office. It is only fair that when we see something work well, we recognize that too. Thanks to Beth, Angie, and all of the people who made sure our votes counted in 2012.•

Opinions: Readers may offer opinions concerning Indiana Lawyer stories and other legal issues. Readers may respond immediately by viewing the “submissions” section on our website: www.theindianalawyer.com. We reserve the right to edit letters for space requirements and to reproduce letters on the IL website and online databases. Direct letters to editor Kelly Lucas at klucas@ibj.com or 41 E. Washington St., Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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