By Scott Tibbs, August 30, 2010
Last week, the Monroe County election board failed to approve satellite voting sites for the 2010 election, leading to political sniping and drawing both legislative and Congressional candidates into the debate.
The Republican county clerk joined the Democratic member in supporting the sites, but the vote has to be unanimous, so the Republican appointee's nay vote killed the proposal for now.
Politically, this was a foolish vote. Republicans don't gain anything from it, and it opens a line of attack by Democrats in a year when Republicans have been on offense. There's no reason to punt the ball on first down when you are on a drive toward the end zone. Republicans can at least point toward the fact that Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita has endorsed the sites and the Republican county clerk voted "yes" last week.
Taking a stand that damages yourself politically is honorable when you are right on the issue, or if you are taking a stand for an important point. That's not the case here. Every election, we hear concern about voters not participating in the electoral process, so why not use a proven method to expand voter participation? Republicans should be about expanding the pool of people who are voting.
It is true that for someone motivated to vote, there's plenty of opportunity to do so. I usually vote early at the clerk's office, and even without the satellite locations there is plenty of opportunity to vote. But many do not take advantage of this and the satellite sites have been a proven success. As the Herald-Times pointed out yesterday, arguments that some precincts had pathetic turnout are weak. I realize I'm beating the ashes of a cremated horse here, but the the satellite voting sites were extremely successful in increasing participation in 2008.
There is simply no good reason not to continue offering voters the opportunity to participate in our election process through the satellite voting sites. The election board should approve the sites at their meeting tonight.