AKA "Absentee Voting Initiative"
Let me set the stage by providing links to the sources I will be citing in this post.
Let us begin by looking at the fiscal sections in this Proposal:
Section 2: The Marion County Elections Board requests an additional appropriation to Character Three for One Million Four Hundred Fifty-Five Thousand Five Hundred dollars ($1,455,500) in the County General Fund for the mailing of absentee ballots and the rental of additional Express Vote.
The important items in this section are that $1,455,500 from the General Fund are for absentee ballots and additional Express Vote machines. We can break that down even further, of the $1,455,500:
Primary Ballot Elections - $550,000
General Election Ballots - $550,000
Voting Machine Rental - $355,500
Section 3: The Marion County Elections Board requests an additional appropriation to Character four of Six Hundred Thirty-Three Thousand Nine Hundred Fifty-Five dollars ($633,955) in the Cumulative Capital fund for the necessary equipment to run the Marion County elections of 2020.
The essential items in this section are that $633,955 from the Cumulative Capital Fund is for necessary equipment to run Marion County Elections.
Section 4: Upon approval of this and other pending proposals, the following unappropriated fund balances projected to remain at the end of 2020:
The critical information to note from this table is the projected balances for each fund used. We will talk more about this later when I compare it to the budget.
What does all this mean?
Let it be very evident this proposal was not specifically for the use of absentee ballots during the primary. $989,455 requested from the Election Board is for equipment that both Democrat and Republican Parties agreed on.
Why did the Election Board vote on and request that amount of money?
During the 2019 elections, there were a lot of technical problems related to Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity, privacy, and procedural protocols, as well as long lines at many voting sites. The intent for the $989,455 is to alleviate these issues by renting more machines, moving to corded connections, screen privacy protection, and preventing the Clerk from hovering over your shoulder when voting. In addition to spending money on more equipment, they modified the protocols and reduced the number of voting sites and increased the number of machines per site.
So you still spent $1.1M on absentee ballots...
I am in a unique position where I am a Township Chairman in Warren Township for the Republican Party and an Elected Official in District 18 for the City of Indianapolis. Being that I am a Township Chairman I had conversations with the other Chairmen, and Chairwomen on how to make the election process better for votes. We all agreed on many items in the $989,455 amount, and this proposal was my opportunity to get what we asked for.
As for the absentee ballots, I was not on board for that. Please view the link provided above where you can see my statements in the Council meeting that $1M could have a better use considering we know we are going to have a lack of income tax revenue because so many people are on unemployment due to COVID-19.
Outside of all of the other better things, $1M could be spent on will spend it on absentee ballots break the bank?
Let us answer this by taking a look at the 2020 Budget:
This image is hard to read, but I did provide a link at the top to view it yourself; this is on page 10.
What is important to note are the two accounts I have arrows pointing at "City General" & "Cumulative Capital." Next, each column represents what the title states, what is important to us today is the far right column the anticipated balance for December 31st, 2020. At this point, we have to reference our table from Section 4 of the proposal:
Here we have the same two Accounts - County General and Cumulative Capital: Lets match what the projected budget was when the budget was approved and the new figure from the proposal: After the adoption of the 2020 Budget, the anticipated Dec 31st balance for the General Fund was $27,795,638; we are currently on-trend to end at $30,620,812, we are still in good shape! Additionally, the Cumulative Capital Find anticipated to end with $1,657,743; the new projection is $1,178,718; this is under now but still in decent health. The good thing about the Cumulative Capital account is that is can only be used for Capital Expenses. When it was time to make my decision for this proposal, all of this information mattered. Will the voting experience for residents be better than what it was and are our accounts in good enough shape to handle the expense, at the end of the day the answer was, yes. I understand the concern for fiscal responsibility and the need to spend money wisely. Do I believe it is wise to spend $1M on absentee ballots, NO! Do I believe it is wise to spend $1M on improving our in-person voting experience? YES Are our accounts in good enough shape to hand a $2M expense? YES As always, feel free to reach out with questions and concerns our City benefits from an open dialog. Thank you, Mike