Mapping error in Cumberland creates extra steps for poll workers

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HANCOCK COUNTY — A Hancock County map that had listed one Cumberland neighborhood in an incorrect town council district since at least 2012 has caused election officials to double check the address of every voter in two Cumberland districts — hundreds of homes — days before the election.

The Hancock County Election Board discussed the discrepancy in an emergency meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 29. Lisa Lofgreen, county clerk, said Harvest Glen, a Cumberland neighborhood of about 50 homes near Buck Creek Road north of U.S. 40, was labeled in the county’s GIS mapping system as being in District 5 when it should’ve been in District 4.

Cumberland passed a redistricting ordinance in 2012 because of the 2010 U.S. Census, said April Fisher, the town manager of Cumberland. Harvest Glen, however, didn’t move from District 5 to District 4 in 2012, she said. It was listed in District 4 in the 2012 ordinance as well as in an ordinance from 2002.

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“We are not sure why Hancock County records were not updated or where the breakdown in communication happened,” Fisher wrote in an email to the Daily Reporter, “but at this point we are focused on working with Hancock County to make sure the maps and addresses match.”

Lofgreen said the county does have files of a 2012 Cumberland council district map and a redistricting ordinance, but somehow Harvest Glen was incorrectly labeled on GIS. Three parcels on the east side of Buck Creek Road next to Cumberland Heights, a neighborhood south of Harvest Glen, were also mislabeled as being in District 3 instead of District 4. Fisher said those parcels were redistricted in 2012.

The election office has worked to correct the issue with the county’s GIS coordinator, Lofgreen said.

Cumberland’s District 4 seat is the only contested race in the town on Election Day. Democrat J. Aaron Cutshaw, the incumbent, is running against Republican Breck Terheide. District 4 is the only Cumberland town council district — of a total of five — that’s split between Hancock County and Marion County.

Hancock County GOP Chairwoman Janice Silvey and Hancock County Democratic Chairman Randy Johnson each said their parties’ District 4 candidates are actively campaigning in Cumberland.

Robin Spille, election deputy, said a friend of one of the candidates that lives in Harvest Glen caught the error when he went on the state’s voter website and saw it listed him in District 5 rather than District 4. Spille said the candidates and many residents in the neighborhood are also aware of the error.

The issue didn’t affect the May primary or elections in 2015, Lofgreen said, since there weren’t any contested races.

Because of the error, if a resident from Harvest Glen casts a ballot, the county’s electronic poll books will list the person as living in District 5 rather than District 4. As of Monday afternoon, Oct. 28, no one from Harvest Glen had voted early, Lofgreen said.

The county election board on Tuesday passed a motion to instruct election inspectors at the county’s vote centers to call the election office if any voter from Cumberland District 4 or District 5 checks in.

The election office will then confirm the person’s address and instruct the inspector which town council district aligns with the voter’s address. If a person lives in Harvest Glen or in the three parcels, election workers will have to manually print out the correct ballot. They cannot change the poll book information.

Since the electronic poll books aren’t connected to the Balotar — a machine that prints off paper ballots — or the ballot tabulator, the paper ballot will count for the voter’s correct district rather than what’s listed in the poll book, Lofgreen said.

Early voting ends at noon Monday, Nov. 4, in the Hancock County Courthouse. Election Day hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, at five locations: Fortville Community Center, Hancock County Annex, the Hancock County Public Library’s branches in Greenfield and Sugar Creek and Adaggio’s Banquet Hall.

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“District 4 shall consist of the areas within the Town Boundaries east of District 2 north to 10th Street and south to the Cumberland Pennsy Trail including Harvest Glen and Cumberland Heights Subdivision, properties along Buck Creek Road in Sugar Creek Township that are in the Town’s corporate limits, and south on Carroll Road to Buck Creek.

District 5 shall consist of the areas within the Town Boundaries known as Valley Brook Farms, Valley Brook Village, Cobblefield Estates, and Autumn Woods as well as the properties along the west side of Buck Creek Road north to I-70.”

Source: Cumberland 2012 redistricting ordinance