Members of the
Porter County Election Board continued to argue over electronic poll books
on Friday but did came to a consensus not to purchase any more election
equipment until contracts can be put out to bid.
of a resolution to use the e-poll books already in the county’s possession
only in early voting locations this year, Democratic member J.J. Stankiewicz
talked of his concern about “$180,000 in play” which he later clarified as
how much is owed on the poll books from Electronic Software and Systems.
Fellow board member
and County Clerk Karen Martin said Stankiewicz’s math differs from hers as
she asserted the purchases pending are three installments of $49,000.
Stankiewicz said the $180,000 is a figure he’s heard discussed that may have
been reported by the County Auditor’s office.
Vicki Urbanik after the meeting said claims for payments on poll books have
come into her office and the election board spent $131,000 for ballots and
coding last year, but she is not sure where Stankiewicz got his figure or
what exact amount is owed on the poll books.
A request for
nearly $99,000 to make the payment to vendor Electronic Software and Systems
will be made by the Election Board at the Porter County Council’s meeting
The board acquired
69 poll books last year without having the County Council’s approval for
funding before signing the contract and so far the Council has responded by
denying requests to transfer funds for the bill. The Council said it would
consider the request again after the November general elections so as to
evaluate how well the e-poll books performed.
Stankiewicz said he
feels it’s “not a given we all won’t end up in court” over the contract for
equipment not being let out for bids. A court could determine the contract
to be void.
against allowing the e-poll books to be used for early voting, event after
being told by Martin and Board President and Republican member David Bengs
that the resolution had “nothing to do about the payment.” Both Bengs and
Martin voted for the measure.
The board opted not
to use the e-poll books on Election Day because there are not enough to be
set up at every polling place.
With the contract
for equipment up at the end of this year, Stankiewicz asked his colleagues
to take bids. Bengs and Martin had said the contract for the e-poll books
did not need to be bid out because it was under $150,000, the minimum amount
the state mandates for purchases to require bids.
“I advise that no
equipment will be purchased until the contracts are bid out,” said
Stankiewicz, making his statement into a motion.
Martin and Bengs
agreed, with Bengs adding that election officials will also need the
software required to run the equipment.
“This is going to
be the whole ball of wax,” he said.
Also on Friday, the
Election Board directed its attorney Ethan Lowe to notify current or former
candidates who have failed to turn in their campaign finance reports.
Martin, who now
takes the reports at her office, said she’s determined that 17 candidates
are not up to date. Many of them are no longer in office but have not filed
to disband their committees, she said.
Lowe said he would
send out letters asking candidates to file reports or disband their
committees by the beginning of March. The Election Board looks to set
hearings for those who don’t comply and impose fines for violators.
The board will meet
next on Friday, March 18 when it will review the list.