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New Early Voting Center At Ball State Could Target Youth Vote

This story was written by Bob Culp, Daily News

The Delaware County election board failed to make a decision Tuesday on if Ball State should have an early voting center on campus.

Citing the need for more information on the subject, the board scheduled to meet again on the matter Wednesday, Sept. 17.

According to Indiana state law, county election boards are responsible to determine if residents may vote early -- up to 30 days prior to election day -- within each particular county.

Early voting centers have been popular among counties with high college populations. Purdue, Indiana and Indiana State Universities ran successful early voting in 2004, and with high numbers of youth voters registered this year an early voting center on campus could alleviate lines at polling places on election day, President of College Democrats Mike Uehlein said.

Those against the issue question the cost, location, possible poll workers and voting security.

The three-member board, made up of Delaware County Clerk Steve Craycraft, Phil Nichols, and Bill Bruns, requires a unanimous vote to pass anything on their desk.

Bruns, the lone republican, said the issue needs to be thought out more before the Oct. 6 deadline.

"There are too many questions here," Bruns said. "We shouldn't be forced to do this in such a short amount of time."

Nichols said the board shouldn't feel pressured into making an immediate decision.

"We don't have to rush into this," he said. "We have fewer voting machines and more voters than four years ago.

With about 30 people attending the meeting, people -- including Student Government President Frank Hood, representatives from the College Democrats and Republicans, members of the university and Muncie citizens-- were encouraged to voice their opinion to the members of the board.

Hood said SGA is willing to spend up to $1,500 to counteract possible costs with early voting, and Associate Vice President for Human Resources and State Relations Tom Morrison said Ball State could help to provide a centralized location and parking for Delaware county voters.

"For once there is a genuine youth interest in the Democratic process," Hood said. "Early voting would be beneficial to all."

Robert Burgess, treasurer of the College Republicans, said the early voting may not be necessary. In yesterday's edition of The Daily News, the College Republicans and Democrats published a joint column as proponents of the referendum. The column's position, Burgess said, was not discussed by the Republican organization's executive board before it was published by the president of Ball State Republicans, R.J. Crace.

"It was an knee-jerk reaction," Burgess said. "I believe it was unsupported and uninformed."

Mike White, an expert on electronic voting and voting security brought in by the board, said there were no issues associated with computer security.

"I see this as where voting is going," White said. "We have to begin changing the way we are doing business."

As more people talked, the more Nichols and Craycraft seemed to be in support of the issue.

"Passing this would interest students and citizens," Nichols said. "It would be foolish to turn our back on the financial help."

While both sides said partisan politics would not play a role in the boards final decision, Nichols said Bruns will have to be open minded in his final decision.

"The issues could be settled in a short time," he said. "The only obstacle I see is Mr. Bruns' vote."

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