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Rokita visits Brazil, discusses early voting

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

(Photo)
Todd Rokita
For approximately one month, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita has undergone a "50-county election readiness tour."

On Wednesday, he visited St. Vincent Clay Hospital to discuss absentee balloting.

St. Vincent Health has partnered with Rokita this year to register voters and promote the election process among hospital employees and area communities.

St. Vincent Health is the state's eighth largest employer.

St. Vincent Clay Hospital chief administrator Jerry Laue said the partnership has worked well.

"This is a really good plan that has come together," Laue said. "It's been really successful. I'm amazed at the number of increased voters. This is wonderful."

During his tour, Rokita said he's noticed an increase in voter interest.

"I've been speaking directly to voters and taxpayers," he said.

Rokita said his office has set up a "grassroots" effort for businesses and labor unions to get more interest in voting.

He added through the various partnerships, voter interest has increased, stating there were approximately 820,000 new or updated voter registrations this year.

He said through Tuesday, more than 366,000 absentee ballots had been cast statewide. Rokita said there are 4.5 million registered voters in Indiana and believed close to 65 percent of them would vote this year.

He said in the past, his office has reached out to voters through public service announcements, among other ways. However, he hoped to gain even more interest this year.

"We wanted to do 'outreach 2.0'," he said, "and get more grassroots about it."

One example of making sure all Hoosiers get out and vote is the traveling board.

In order to vote absentee through the traveling board, residents have to qualify through two options. The resident must expect to be confined due to illness or injury or expect to be caring for a confined person at a private residence on Election Day, or the person is a voter with disabilities and believes their specific polling place is not accessible to them.

Ballots will then be delivered to those who fall under this category via bi-partisan absentee voter board who will be able to assist with the ballot. Those voting through a travling board are not required to show photo identification.

Clay County Clerk Mary Brown said the traveling board is set up here. She said one Democrat and one Republican would visit those in need and added this process has been set in place for several years.

For example, she said the traveling board would visit hospitals, nursing homes or voters who are confined to their homes.

Newly registered voters also received a 3-by-5 card this year explaining the voting process.

Rokita said he hopes to use cutting-edge technology in the future to continue increasing voter interest.

"We hope it ripens in the future," he said. "What I'm seeing is an aggressive effort. This is all hands-on deck."



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