An Indiana county hires yet another election supervisor, hoping she’ll stay

Mar 2, 2024, 11:00 PM

Kylie Moreland, the Monroe County Elections Supervisor poses in her office in Bloomington, Ind., Tu...

Kylie Moreland, the Monroe County Elections Supervisor poses in her office in Bloomington, Ind., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. Moreland, 24, worked on the municipal election in November as assistant to the election supervisor and was promoted to the supervisor role Feb. 12. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana county lost its top election official nearly every other month over the last year after a longtime supervisor resigned following a counting error in the November 2022 tally.

Voting advocates hope fears of a rocky election year will ease now that Monroe County has named a supervisor who is vowing to stay. The county clerk promoted a 24-year-old elections office assistant to the top job on Feb. 12, just 12 weeks before Indiana’s May 7 primaries to choose candidates for U.S. Senate, governor and president.

“Given the national mood, public confidence in this election will likely be tested,” the League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County said in a January letter urging county officials to quickly fill the role.

Voting advocates and local party chairs say enormous responsibilities and relatively low salaries have made it difficult to keep recent hires in Monroe. As home to Indiana University and the college town of Bloomington, the county is a Democratic island in overwhelmingly Republican Indiana.

Increased scrutiny around elections and threats to election workers have prompted waves of retirements and resignations from local election offices across the country since former President Donald Trump led efforts to challenge the 2020 vote counts. The resulting loss of institutional knowledge in the midst of many changes in voting laws is making 2024 a challenging election year.

“Not having somebody who’s experienced in doing this and familiar with our county and how things have been done in the past makes the job heavier on the people who do have to do the work,” said Debora Shaw, spokesperson for the Bloomington-Monroe League of Women Voters.

The turnover in Monroe began in early 2023 when Karen Wheeler, the supervisor since 2017, resigned following pressure that came mostly from her fellow Republicans over a mistake during the Nov. 2022 vote count. About 6,600 ballots were not added until the next morning, after unofficial results had already been sent to the Secretary of State.

Wheeler, 67, told The Associated Press that the early voting results had been kept on a digital storage device and were added to the unofficial tally by 9 a.m. that Wednesday. She said she took the blame and resigned to avoid being fired by the Democratic county clerk, but stands by the performance of her staff.

“Some people are always suspicious of elections, but people who know who we are had a lot of confidence,” Wheeler said.

The county clerk, Nicole Browne, did not return the AP’s phone and email messages requesting comment.

Wheeler said an election training specialist hired before her resignation was prepared by the county to succeed her, but she quit just weeks after Wheeler left. Three others then briefly filled the job — one stayed only a month.

Wheeler said she both loved and hated the job. She administered eight elections and oversaw more than 80 workers during early voting and 300 each Election Day. Wheeler described the role as liaison between candidates, the media, vendors, the state and the public. The election supervisor also writes ballots specific to each precinct.

“It’s an extremely difficult job,” Wheeler said. “And with Monroe County the pay was pretty low” — around $37,000 for the full-time, year-round work.

The starting pay was increased to $55,674 for the latest hire, according to a county job posting.

Elections are becoming increasingly complex, the laws governing them change regularly, and the high turnover means officials stepping into these roles are less likely to be aware of resources that can help them, said Liz Howard, a election expert with the Brennan Center for Justice.

In Indiana, for example, a bill proposed this year would add a proof of residency requirement for first-time voters registering in-person.

“Many people are unaware of the complexity and all the work that it takes to make that process so easy for voters,” Howard said.

None of the Monroe officials reported being threatened, but such incidents are up sharply around the nation. task force to address threats.

Monroe’s party chairs, Democrat David Henry and Republican Taylor Bryant, praised Wheeler and lamented the office turnovers after her departure.

“That institutional memory is really hard to replace and replicate in a short period of time,” Henry said.

While Shaw, who has worked with the newly promoted supervisor before, said she is glad Kylie Moreland is reliable and has some experience, there is always a chance that a presidential election won’t go smoothly.

“It would be an awful job if you just got thrown in,” Wheeler said.

Moreland developed a passion for election law and the process last fall, and wants to build a lifelong career at “election central.” Despite lacking years of experience, she feels well prepared after working the November election and has support from the Indiana Elections Division, she said.

Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales announced this year that more than 60 counties will split $2 million in federal funding for election security and other projects. Monroe County is not among them. His office said additional funding opportunities are being discussed.

As for Wheeler, she works now for the county parks and recreation department and volunteers to teach voter registration training.

“I have a much easier job and I get paid the exact same,” she said.

United States News

Associated Press

Video of 2 bear cubs pulled from trees prompts North Carolina wildlife investigation but no charges

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A video of people pulling two bear cubs from a tree in North Carolina as one person posed for a photo with one of the wild animals prompted an investigation, but a state wildlife official said Friday that no charges will be filed. When North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission staff responded […]

15 minutes ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in a Manhattan Criminal Court on April 19, 2024. A full jury was...

Associated Press

Full jury of 12, with 6 alternates, seated for Donald Trump’s criminal trial

A full jury was seated Friday in Donald Trump’s hush money case, the first criminal trial for a former president in U.S. history.

41 minutes ago

Associated Press

Attorneys argue that Florida law discriminates against Chinese nationals trying to buy homes

An attorney asked a federal appeals court on Friday to block a controversial Florida law signed last year that restricts Chinese citizens from buying real estate in much of the state, calling it discriminatory and a violation of the federal government’s supremacy in deciding foreign affairs. Attorney Ashley Gorski, representing four Chinese nationals who live […]

45 minutes ago

Associated Press

A convicted rapist is charged with murder in the killing of a Connecticut visiting nurse

A convicted rapist was charged with murder and attempted sexual assault Friday in the killing of a visiting nurse at a Connecticut halfway house for sex offenders in October — a crime that spurred calls for better safety measures for home health care workers. Authorities added the charges against Michael Reese, 39, as he appeared […]

55 minutes ago

Associated Press

Catholic priest resigns from Michigan church following protests over his criticism of a gay author

BEAL CITY, Mich. (AP) — A Catholic priest has resigned as pastor of a church in a small central Michigan community, the result of weeks of controversy following his publicly expressed regret that a gay author had read a book to preschool children. Gay rights activists and others have held regular protests outside St. Joseph […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Judge drops some charges against ex-Minnesota college student feared of plotting campus shooting

NORTHFIELD, Minn. (AP) — A judge has dismissed some of the most serious charges against a former Minnesota college student who police and prosecutors feared was plotting a campus shooting. Waylon Kurts, of Montpelier, Vermont, who was then a student at St. Olaf College in Northfield, was charged last April with conspiracy to commit second-degree […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

An Indiana county hires yet another election supervisor, hoping she’ll stay