By Scott Tibbs, October 30, 2003
The following statement in today's Herald-Times is telling. "In Monroe County, Democrats have threatened to challenge mail-in ballots cast by IU students if they appear to determine the outcome of Bloomington city elections next Tuesday." On October 20, the H-T quoted Monroe County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Combs as saying: "If it looks like these ballots determine the outcome of the election, we will not allow that."
The Indiana Daily Student reported on October 20: "Regardless of the judgment made during tonight's hearing, Combs said the possibility of challenging the mail-in votes could still be an option. If ineligible ballots are cast, and those votes swing the decision in the election, Combs said the Democrats would have reason to challenge the election."
The Democrats are in effect ticketing people for driving 67 miles per hour on I-69. So what if these students won't be working twelve hours on Election Day? With turnout painfully low, Democrats should be looking for ways to make sure everyone exercises their right to vote, rather than disenfranchising voters on a technicality. It is important to follow the rules, but the Democrats are overreacting.
There would not even be a controversy if these votes didn't have the potential of keeping the Democrats from winning an election. There is a real chance these votes could cost the Democrats their hold on the sixth district, which was held by Pam Service before she passed the torch to Chris Gaal. Furthermore, the at-large races are likely to be close, as they were four years ago.
What the Democrats are saying to students is this: "Go ahead and vote; but if your vote hurts us, your vote will not be counted." It seems to me that this tempest in a teapot isn't about "following the rules" at all, but making sure Democrats maintain their 32-year hold on city government. What happened to the Democratic Party that had a mantra of "count all the votes" in the 2000 Florida recount?