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Unopposed off ballots here

September 23, 2011

    The ballots for the November 8 general elections in Decatur and Berne will contain only the names of the candidates in contested races, not the names of unopposed candidates.
    Monica McCormack, the Adams County deputy clerk in charge of elections, told the Daily Democrat that the ballots will have only the seven contested races — one in Decatur and six in Berne — for two reasons.
    First, neither of the two judges in the county issued a ruling requiring the listing of the names of unopposed candidates and no court with statewide jurisdiction made such a ruling, either.
    Secondly, today is the day when previously-requested absentee ballots are first mailed out. So a decision had to be made.
    In Decatur, the only race on the ballot will be for the city council's at-large seat, pitting incumbent Democrat Barb Engle against Republican Cameron Collier. So the ballot for Decatur residents will contain just two names.
    In Berne, the mayor's seat and all five city council seats are on the ballot. Only incumbent Republican Clerk-Treasurer Gwen Maller is unopposed, so her name will not be on the ballot.
    The Republican-controlled Legislature this year approved a new law which says elections may not be held for offices with only one candidate. The law, which went into effect July 1, upset candidates whose names were removed from the ballot, political parties and election officials who predict that the blank spaces on ballots will confuse voters, according to The Associated Press.
    On September 12, a Wayne County judge granted an injunction in a lawsuit filed by both major political parties, two unopposed candidates for Richmond elected offices and two voters. ‘‘We worked together to do what we felt was right,’’ said Richmond Mayor Sally Hutton, who chairs the county’s Democratic Party. ‘‘I really believe it would discourage people from voting and we don’t want anything that discourages people from voting.’’
    ‘‘It’s a win for the voters,’’ added county Republican Party Chairwoman Misty Hollis.
    At the time, Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, said the office hadn’t decided whether to appeal.
    The Monroe County Election Board also recently voted to include uncontested races on the local ballot, The Herald-Times reports.
    Monroe County Clerk Linda Robbins decided to go ahead and hold an election in Ellettsville despite the lack of opposed candidates, saying that she interpreted the new law as optional.

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