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Tippecanoe Co. Clerk Candidates Debate Election Security, Voter Turnout

Charlotte Tuggle

On the eve of Wednesday’s start to early voting, election security was at the forefront of the Tippecanoe County Clerk’s debate.

Democratic law professor Vicky Woeste and Republican Fairfield Township Trustee Julie Roush debated the county’s election system in front of a crowd at the county office building.

Roush says though the current voting machines are old, they’re still secure and should be replaced after the U.S. Election Assistance Commission updates voting standards.

“Training poll workers, following protocol and updating them when necessary is important in protecting our systems,” Roush says. “We must always be a step ahead of someone who would like to hack our system.”

Woeste says the machines should be updated sooner. She also says she’s in favor of the vote-by-mail system.

“We can produce ballots just like absentee ballots, which are also difficult to forge, that are coded with an individual hologram or a UPC code for each individual voter,” Woeste says.

To increase voter turnout, Woeste suggests extending voting hours and Roush says voting locations should be more convenient.

Both candidates agree revamping the voting system would be costly and wouldn’t happen overnight.

Republican candidate Julie Roush has been a Fairfield Township Trustee for more than a decade. She touts her long history as a local official and as a financial advisor.

“Improving the website usability will be a priority. I will also be reviewing staff assignments and workload structure,” Roush says. “We need a financial plan to update and replace our election technology. We need to start saving for that, as HAVA grant money from the federal government is no longer available.”

Democratic candidate Vicky Woeste says her background in law makes her the better candidate. She says she’s already heard of problem areas that need to be fixed.

“There are some issues with how the courts interact, particularly concerning the two different e-filing systems that are in use,” Woeste says. “So, there are some issues with coordination. There are some technology differences that have to be bridged.”

The county clerk manages the administration of elections and court records. Early voting starts Wednesday. Election Day is November 6.

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