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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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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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