To making voting simpler and possibly increase voter turnout, both Cole County clerk candidates stressed the need for a centralized voting location during News Tribune's candidate forum Wednesday night.
Cole County Clerk Forum
Use the video player below or access the City of Jefferson's YouTube channel to watch this forum.
Cole County Clerk incumbent Republican Steve Korsmeyer is running against Green Party candidate Ann Moeckli in the Nov. 6 general election for the county clerk position. The county clerk is the primary election official for the county and oversees the voting precincts' operations.
If re-elected, Korsmeyer said he would like to look into a centralized voting location, where anyone could vote. This would make voting more convenient and encourage higher turnout, he added.
Financing the centralized voting location would be the largest obstacle, though. In years where there is only one election, it would be difficult to spread out the cost. However, when there is four elections in a year, he added, "it's easier to justify the cost."
While not sure where exactly to place the centralized voting locations, Moeckli suggested adding one in each ward.
Along with a centralized voting location, Moeckli added no-excuse absentee voting would be "very beneficial" to the county.
These are just two ways to increase voter turnout, both said. Korsmeyer said his office went into the community to register voters, while Moeckli said educating voters is the key to increase voter turnout.
"A lot of times, April is the least voted election and presidential (elections) are usually the favorite," she said. "We need to get people involved in the August primaries. It's hard because you can register them but getting them out to vote is the problem. So, informing voters, I guess, would be the best way."
Earlier this week, Cole County Senior Judge Richard Callahan ruled election officials cannot require voters who are "otherwise qualified to cast a regular ballot" to sign an affidavit if they don't have one of the photo IDs lawmakers included in the new law. The new voter ID law went into effect July 1, 2017.
Korsmeyer and Moeckli said having photo IDs would ensure people are not impersonating others when voting.
"Photo ID is still good because you can't hardly go anywhere and get money or borrow money or do anything without having a photo ID, so it's only proper that you would use it to vote with," Korsmeyer said. "When you walk in there, there's no doubt, no question the person standing before you is the person that's voting because you can look at their picture and identify them."
Having first been elected to office in 2014, Korsmeyer said he has had "four years of success" and qualifies him to be re-elected. Public relations is also a key part of the clerk's job, and he learned how to work with the public while co-owning Blackwell's Garage.
With more than 30 years of experience working for Cole County, Moeckli said she has worked with various departments and teams, ranging from voter registration, absentee and verification teams, and voting equipment.