With all the attention on the Presidential race I have slipped and not kept pace with the lower offices. Obviously I'm supporting Libertarian candidates with my vote or with my time/money, Andy Horning, Jack Evans, Bill Larsen, Rex Bell, Eric Schansberg, and many others.
But we don't have LP candidates for all the races, so I sat down tonight to find out exactly who was on the ballot so I could research them. The process wasn't hard, but was more complicated than I thought it would be.
So heres a short primer on how to get a sample ballot, its aimed at Allen County, but should apply anywhere in Indiana:
1. Ignore anything that isn't an official State or County Board of Elections site. I found a few unofficial sites with mistakes on thier ballots.
2. Confirm #1, if you didn't get to it through the Secretary of State or your County Board of Elections, you can't be sure its right.
3. Go to "Find your Election Information", the link is on the left hand side of the Allen County Board of Elections. Direct link is http://www.co.allen.in.us/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=376&Itemid=700
4. Open the link to IndianaVoters in a new window or tab. That is endorsed by both Allen County and the Secretary of State. Direct link is http://www.indianavoters.com/PublicSite/PublicMain.aspx
5. Click on "Polling Place" and enter your information.
6. The search results should show your info. The number you need is the PRECINCT. Mine is #214.
7. Go back to the Allen County Board of Elections page and click on "Ballot Style Variations" to download a PDF. http://www.co.allen.in.us/images/stories/Election_board/2008/2008G%20Ballot%20Styles%20Web.pdf
8. Skim through that and look for your precinct, next to it is a "Ballot Style Number". Remember that number.
9. Go back to the Allen County BoE page and click on the link to your ballot style. Mine is #11, http://www.co.allen.in.us/images/stories/Election_board/2008/Ballot%20Style%2011.pdf
10. Thats it. You now have a sample ballot. You can see exactly who you can vote for.
I always have nothing but praise for the staff at the Board of Elections. They do a pretty good job at making it easy for Hoosiers to vote and for candidates to get the info we need to stay legal while we run for office, but having to go through that many hoops to get a sample ballot is a bit troubling.
I hope this helps illustrate the problem so that the Secretary of State and County Board of Elections can use the off-year in 2009 to streamline the process. That this information is online at all puts Indiana light years ahead of other states, but I think both the voters and the staff at the BoE would have a much better time in 2010 if this got tightened up a bit.
Now that I've got my ballot, I'm off to do some homework.