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.•

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