Rokita Issues Post-Election Assessment and Wrap-Up

Contact: AJ Freeney-Ruiz

Indianapolis, IN - Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita today issued an assessment of Indiana's 2006 Primary Election.

On the 2006 Primary Election
With personnel strategically located throughout the state, the Office of the Secretary of State kept tabs not only on Indiana's new Voter ID law, but also on the many new technological improvements to Indiana's electoral process being used in Tuesday's election. Input statewide indicated a very good to normal election with some issues common to any typical election.

Statement from Secretary of State Todd Rokita:
"It is difficult to ignore how the state's high level of preparedness going into this election aided in Tuesday's success. On behalf of the voters and taxpayers, I want to applaud Indiana's local officials for their leadership yesterday, as well as the more than 30,000 civic minded volunteers who worked the polls. As a member of the federal Election Assistance Commission Standards Board Executive Committee, I will present all of yesterday's successes to fellow national leaders in Washington, DC later this month."

On Voter ID
No major issues from Tuesday's election concerning Voter ID have been reported to the Secretary of State's office. At 23%, preliminary numbers for statewide turnout this year exceeds the percentage turnout from 2002. Marion County saw turnout of 15% in 2002 compared to 14% this year.

Statement from Secretary of State Todd Rokita:
"As expected, we have had a very successful statewide election utilizing Indiana's Voter ID law, which added a significant level of integrity to our already nationally heralded processes. All of the sky-is-falling-Chicken-Little arguments never came to fruition and nobody was kept away from the polls - except possibly the cheaters. Hoosiers continue to support this common sense, no-cost way to prevent identity theft at the polls. We now have six months until the General Election to continue educating voters and pollworkers on Voter ID and help them become accustomed to the law."

Assorted Post-Election Accounts on Voter ID Law from Around the State: From Indianapolis Star:
"Tuesday's primary election came and went with few hitches despite a new state law requiring all voters to show a photo ID."

From Northwest Indiana Times:
"Typical [county] turnout."

From Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:
"Voters casting ballots at the Fort Wayne Urban League in the Hana Creighton neighborhood - with the highest concentration of poor and minorities in the city - did not have to turn away a single voter, workers said."

On Indiana's Statewide Voter Registration System
County officials throughout the state experienced few issues using Indiana's first statewide voter registration system. The system manages the voter roll for the entire state, and all 92 counties access it to perform a variety of tasks before, after, and during Election Day. Tuesday's Election marked the first successful use of the system in an Indiana election.

Statement from Secretary of State Todd Rokita
"Tuesday marked the first successful election using Indiana's new statewide voter file. Leadership and teamwork paved the way toward the completion of this system - one of, if not the most, complex IT project in state history - and county feedback has been overwhelmingly positive concerning its performance in a real election."

On Pollworker Shortages, New Polling Places, and the Future of Vote Centers
Some counties reported difficulty staffing polling locations on Election Day, which led to some precincts opening after the 6:00AM start to voting. Several voters reported the late opening times to the Secretary of State's Election Day toll-free hotline and county officials were eventually able to provide the needed staff and equipment to begin voting. Other calls to the hotline reported that some movement of polling places to fully accessible locations caused confusion among some voters who had cast a ballot in the same location for years.

One significant solution to this problem is Vote Centers. Championed by Secretary Rokita and county clerks, the concept allows voters to cast a ballot in any one of several-dozen vote centers located throughout a county. Rokita assembled a bipartisan team of legislators and election officials to gather information on the vote centers last November in Colorado from the one county in the nation that currently uses the concept.

Placed in large community, government, or retail buildings, Vote Centers combine multiple precincts into one location accessible to both disabled voters and any existing public transportation lines, and have been shown to greatly reduce the needed number of pollworkers and polling place locations in a county. The Secretary of State prepared a report on Vote Centers which the Indiana General Assembly used to pass legislation this year to allow a handful of pilot counties to test its application in the state.

Statement from Secretary of State Todd Rokita:
"Changes to the physical locations of some polling places combined with shortages of pollworkers throughout the state have furthered my resolve to test the concept of Vote Centers in Indiana. At the root of these issues is an antiquated system of voting that we have been using for more than 150 years. These problems can be solved with Vote Centers - a concept that will allow Hoosiers to vote the way they live."

On Voting Machines
The state is currently investigating reports of difficulties and errors in some voting machines used throughout the state. Though most instances are isolated, several counties in southern Indiana have experienced significant issues with the same type of machine. Secretary Rokita is already investigating two vendors who provide voting systems to Indiana counties, and will consider any additional evidence gathered in the days following the election as part of future hearings.

The Secretary of State's office facilitated counties in purchasing voting systems by providing more than $30 million in federal and state funds for new accessible machines. The new systems not only allow some disabled Hoosiers to vote independently for the first time, but also alerts voters who make errors on their ballot to make corrections. Previous systems would have invalidated the vote altogether as a result of similar errors.

Statement from Secretary of State Todd Rokita:
"It is important to remember that voting machines used in Indiana today are a vast improvement over previous systems like the much-maligned punch card ballots and lever machines formerly used in most Indiana counties. It appears we are in a period of 'growing pains' as local election workers learn to use the new equipment, and remaining 'bugs' are worked out."