Election officials continue a post-election audit in Clark County on June 13, 2022. (Courtesy Indiana Secretary of State’s Office)
Election officials continue a post-election audit in Clark County on June 13, 2022. (Courtesy Indiana Secretary of State’s Office)

Election skepticism and harassment are on the rise across the country, but Indiana officials say they haven’t noted a difference locally.

In a national survey of nearly 600 election officials released in March, the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice found that 17% of local officials had personally experienced threats, with over half of yesses reporting in-person threats. One in five officials said they were unlikely to continue serving by the 2024 presidential elections.

But less so here, say Hoosier election officials.

“Fortunately, we have not had that happen,” said Daviess County Deputy Clerk Lauren Milton, who’s the Republican candidate for clerk in November.

“We’re pretty rural here,” she added later.

Officials in urban counties reported similar experiences.

“I have no indication, from our full time staff or even seasonal staff, that there have been any threats made to us, to a person or to the organization,” Marion County Election Board Deputy Director Brent Stinson said. “We’ve not seen that. I don’t know if that’s because we do try to do a lot of prep work to keep that from happening.”

Stinson said his team gives the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department its voting locations for incorporation into officers’ beats and response protocols, and works with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office to plan out security for the City-County Building voting site.

Law enforcement also patrol the annex facility on East Washington Street on Election Day and in the days leading up to it, Stinson said. There’s also a contract with a private security firm for a 24/7 guard of the building, which holds election machinery and other supplies, ballots, full-time and seasonal election employees and party-picked election helpers.

But if an election worker were to report a threat, they’d call a hotline that Stinson staffs, and the complaint would be documented in a ticket-tracking system. In an emergency, he said, call 911.

In Daviess County, Milton said, an election officer’s “first call would be to our office.”

“Then, we’d figure out where we needed to go from there,” she said. “The election board would get involved and probably the prosecutor, depending on what it was.”

Other election officials acknowledged negative comments from distrustful and impatient voters, but said those remarks fell short of harassment.

Some voters were openly skeptical about the margin of former President Trump’s victory in Indiana, according to Elkhart County Clerk Christopher Anderson.

“I don’t know if threatened is the right word, but it was, ‘You election administrators don’t know how to do your job — he should have won by much more,‘” Anderson said. “And I’m like, ‘He won by 20 points, here in the state of Indiana. Really?'”

It’s not so much threats. It’s just lack of appreciation for the nonpartisan or bipartisan way in which we do our job,” Anderson added. “… I am a Republican elected official, but I don’t allow that politics to come in and how I run an election. And that’s something I impress on my staff also.”

When in doubt, Anderson said, Elkhart County election workers call him — his cell phone number is listed in the guide materials — or the election board.

One of Anderson’s “most reliable” election supervisors, Kris Mueller, said she’d dealt with voters skeptical of the county’s old voting technology. Then, upgrades sparked more complaints and impatience — at first.

“Once we kind of got our spiel, our how-to’s and the what-to’s, we started to tell [voters] ahead of time what to expect,” said Mueller, who’s been doing working the polls for nearly 20 years. “Our wait times went down from two hours down to 15 minutes.”

“I guess it’s all how the workers handle it,” Mueller added. “It’s [saying] you completely understand and let’s work it out, let’s make it work. And we’re gonna make you comfortable somehow. And not lashing back.”

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