Chesterton Tribune



Campaign signs under fire again at Election Board meeting

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For the second year in a row the Porter County Election Board has heard a complaint about candidate signs that do not carry the words “for” or “elect” when it comes to someone who is not an incumbent, implying they already hold office.

That someone this time is Valparaiso City Council Republican candidate Robert Ordway whose political sign was the subject of a complaint filed with the Election Board by the Center Township Democratic Committee chair Kevin Cornett.

On Thursday, the Election Board agreed 2-1 not to proceed with a formal hearing on the complaint against Ordway, dissenting was Democratic board representative J.J. Stankiewicz, but it did vote unanimously to refer the sign disclaimer issue to its attorney Ethan Lowe.

Last year, County Republican Party Executive Director Kenard Taylor complained that a number of Democrats were in violation of state law by not having the words “for” or “elect” on their signs, but Taylor later withdrew his complaint when he heard the Indiana Election Division would not enforce the law on signage in anticipation of lawmakers amending that section of code with better definitions.

But Cornett asked that the board would enforce what the law says, saying he matter would be coming up each year. He said Ordway’s signs, which had popped up in at least one location in the Valparaiso city limits, were in violation by not carrying the words “for” or “elect.”

“It is clear as day in the code that this needs to be enforced,” Cornett said.

Election Board President and Republican member David Bengs said he hopes the attorney’s opinion would help the board “move forward” on all campaign signs. Because the signs have been taken down as reported by Taylor on Thursday, Bengs said the board would not take action.

The board voted to dismiss the other complaint involving a “billboard” sized banner asking city voters to vote for Ordway in November that was hung up near Washington St. and Lincolnway during the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival on Sept. 12.

The banner was in violation of Valparaiso’s city ordinance banning the presence of political signs more than 30 days prior to the election. Ordway was fined $50 which he agreed to pay, said Taylor, who is the campaign’s treasurer.

Taylor said the banner was put up without Ordway’s knowledge and was done so by some “young supporters” who didn’t realize what the code and ordinances are regarding signs. He added that people request signs way ahead of the election and put the signs out in their yards even when the campaign committee advises they are not to be put out until 30 days prior the election.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Taylor said.

Stankiewicz said he was incredulous that a banner of that size could be made without Ordway’s knowledge. He voted against the motion to scrap Cornett’s complaint, saying that Ordway himself should have been present to address the issues, while Bengs voted in favor along with fellow board member Republican County Clerk Karen Martin. Bengs said he believes the issue has already been dealt with adequately by the city.

Poll book vendor

The contentious issue of the new electronic poll books which has prompted some long and heated discussions at previous election board meetings was only touched upon briefly later in the meeting.

Stankiewicz said the vendor Election Systems and Software, who the board purchased the e-poll books from last year and this past spring, is “not the same ES&S from five years ago” in terms of service with the equipment and encouraged his peers to look at the five-year contract when it is up next year.

Martin however said that ES&S will be working with the board closely this fall in providing additional training for poll workers on the e-poll book in preparation for Election Day on Nov. 3, as it was recommended in a study recently released by the Secretary of State’s Voter System Technical Oversight Program.

Changing vendors would mean extra costs, she said, as the board would have to purchase new software and equipment.




Posted 10/6/2015




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