it's primary day in indiana, and you probably wouldn't even hear about it if things weren't going so horribly wrong.
new marion county clerk beth white (D) is getting a lot of heat because of major problems getting polls open throughout the county. apparently, 150 or more polling place inspectors failed to pick up their materials yesterday, which meant their polling places were unable to open on time. several hours after polls were supposed to open at 6a.m., white was still unable to say how many polling places remained unopened.
if that many people are going to flake out and just not do the work they've agreed to do, i don't know what white is supposed to do to fix things at the last minute. such a development doesn't seem to be her fault per se, but nevertheless, dealing with it is her responsibility as the new clerk. and a pillar of white's campaign was that elections were so sloppy under her predecessor, doris anne sadler (R). white was right to complain about those earlier messed-up elections (indeed, the last election sadler oversaw was particularly screwed up), and white's critics are right to point out that things aren't going much better this year... though in both cases, critics might be exaggerating for political effect.
(puzzlingly, county GOP chairman tom john said earlier today that "the results of the entire 2007 Primary Election are now in question", but also says that the party "is inclined against" extending poll hours. if he truly thinks the results are in question, why wouldn't he want to extend poll hours... unless he thinks the party's chances are better going to court after all the results are in, to contest the results of whichever vote the GOP doesn't like? or maybe it's just a ploy: they know they won't like the election results, and now they can say "beth white screwed it all up, but we were good sports about it"?)
meanwhile, secretary of state todd rokita, oblivious to the growing national realization that republican claims of "voter fraud" are a scam, has been up to his old hijinx in lake county. rokita claims he has the authority to send "special deputies" to any polling place he likes in order to monitor elections for potential fraud. and naturally, he only wants to send them to predominantly black, overwhelmingly democratic lake county. this sounds like a horrible power to grant, as it isn't difficult to imagine a hypothetically corrupt SoS sending a bunch of brownshirts to intimidate minority voters. (and indeed, at first glance, this would appear to be what rokita is doing. rokita's defenders counter that lake county is "notorious" for voter fraud, which translates to "it happened there 40 years ago, so it must still be happening, evidence or no.")
lake county officials say that while rokita himself has the power to visit any polling place he chooses, he can't just grant that power willy-nilly to whoever he likes. polling place monitors must be approved by the county election board, they say, and must also be residents of the county in question. (otherwise that hypothetically corrupt SoS could easily fly in a bunch of jackboots from god knows where.) it remains to be seen whether rokita's deputies actually made it into the polls, and are currently intimidating lake county voters as i type this.¶