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