Indiana Secretary of State visits Lawrence County, discusses election security

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BEDFORD — Indiana's Secretary of State Holli Sullivan met with Lawrence County Clerk Billie Tumey during her recent trip to Bedford. The visit is part of Sullivan's statewide listening tour, where she is traveling to all 92 counties and speaking with each clerk.

Sullivan said her conversation with the Lawrence County Clerk focused on election security, voter maintenance, national election security and the upcoming 2022 elections.

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Another topic of conversation centered on ensuring each clerk is equipped with the latest technologies and information to bolster local election security measures.

"It's been an honor to be able to take time this year without an election to spend time with each clerk, each county and talk through 2020," Sullivan said. "She (Billie Tumey) has a wealth of experience in local government and does an amazing job for you all but it was good to talk through 2020."

Indiana Secretary of State Holli Sullivan poses for a picture with Lawrence County Clerk Billie Tumey during their meeting in Bedford at the Lawrence County Courthouse.
Indiana Secretary of State Holli Sullivan poses for a picture with Lawrence County Clerk Billie Tumey during their meeting in Bedford at the Lawrence County Courthouse.

Sullivan underlined the obstacles caused by the persisting pandemic, especially the challenges it brought during the 2020 elections.

"Each county had their own obstacles through a pandemic to maneuver through and we always want to know lessons learned, things that we changed during the pandemic and that we want to continue to use," she said.

The importance of working together

The listening tour highlights the importance of collaboration between county and state government officials.

"We need more communication and collaboration with local elected officials, as they're the ones that are closest to the voters," she said. "Those are the ones that need us to also partner in new ways to be innovative. So truly, that collaboration and partnership are increasingly important. As a public servant, I think it's extremely important to be in the public and talk to Hoosiers. All counties have a very unique personality and it's good to be able to get to know that personality while we're here in person."

Sullivan said this partnership is important for building trust with voters in Lawrence County and throughout the state.

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"My job is to continue to work in collaboration with your clerk to increase the knowledge that Hoosiers have of the elections process right here in the state of Indiana," Sullivan said.

Voting access

Voter confidence also grows when the process is deemed transparent. Indiana is a leading state when it comes to voter security and accessibility, according to Sullivan. Educating voters about the elections process is vital so they know their votes are secure and accurate.

"So, one thing that increases voter confidence is them knowing exactly the process in which they're engaging to vote, and that they can trust it," the Indiana secretary of state said. "So we're going to continue to educate Hoosiers that our equipment is not hooked up to the internet and the ways we can increase our voter-verified paper trail so that when you vote on an electronic machine, you can get a paper that verifies that. You can then hold, touch, read and verify that your vote was accurate. So we're increasing the use of those across the state. Then, we'll increase messaging around how to update and engage with your own voting activity."

Sullivan noted the successful voter turnout Indiana experienced during the last election cycle in 2020. She said she wants to continue building from this by educating Hoosiers about the importance of voting to ensure this confidence keeps growing.

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"We had the highest voter turnout since 1992. Sixty five percent of the state turned out to vote," she said. "I know that ultimately comes down to the fact that candidates and issues are what engage voters the most but we can do a lot to increase voter confidence right now more than ever."

Other protective measures utilized across Indiana include voter list maintenance, voting machine certification and voter I.D. laws.

Sullivan was selected as Indiana's 62nd secretary of state in March, succeeding Connie Lawson, who resigned midway through her term.

The Indiana Secretary of State's position is up for election in 2022.

Hoosiers can visit to register to vote, check their voting status, learn more about election security, find the nearest voting location and access more features.

There are currently more than 4.7 million registered voters in Indiana, according to the state's voter portal.

The Primary Election will take place on Tuesday, May 3, with the 2022 General Election taking place on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

This article originally appeared on The Times-Mail: Secretary of State visits Lawrence County, discusses election security