to voice concerns to the Republican-controlled Porter County Election Board
about the performance of the new electronic poll books at a meeting held
Friday to certify the May 5 municipal primary election results.
The board voted 2-1
to certify vote counts with the Democratic Director of the County Voters
Registration voting no as proxy for Democratic Election Board member J.J.
Stankiewicz. Kathy Kozuszek said she would not sign off on sending the
results to the state because of a wide discrepancy between the number of
ballots that were counted by the tabulation machines -- 10,618 -- and the
number of voters who signed in using the e-poll books -- 10,284 -- a
difference of 334.
Kozuszek said that
Indiana law states that if the difference between the two is larger than
five in a precinct, then the County Election board is to order that an
independent audit be done.
“The count is off
and in my opinion this is not an election that can be legally certified,”
This is the first
election in which the e-poll books were used. Kozuszek said the CentralPoint
system is supposed to keep live results of all the poll books and yet the
numbers did not add up.
and Election Board president David Bengs and Republican Voters Registration
Office Director Sundae Schoon, acting as proxy for board member and County
Clerk Karen Martin, voted in favor of certifying the vote count.
Thursday emailed a complaint to the two co-directors of the Indiana Election
Board alleging that Election Board President and Republican member David
Bengs had a representative from the equipment vendor Electronic Systems and
Software come into the Voters Registration office on Wednesday to complete
downloads of election data. Kozuszek said the representative broke security
seals on the poll books to get the information which she believes to be a
violation of statute that says election materials may not be tampered with
until the deadline for a recount or contest has passed.
For his part, Bengs
said the download of the log is a necessary function of recording the vote
and “has always been done” for as long as he can remember. The download was
to take place the night of the election as usual but wasn’t, due to lack of
time, he said.
As for the 334
voters not recorded as voting by the e-poll books, Kozuszek said it is of
“grave concern” to her that those persons will not be recorded as having
participated in this election as part of their vote history.
themselves were however counted by the M-100 scanning machines that have
been used in previous elections and, unlike the poll books, leaves a paper
Bengs and Schoon
said that discrepancies happen even with the paper poll books such as the
poll workers failing to sign in voters altogether or voters signing on an
incorrect line. In the 2012 November general elections, the difference
between the ballots counted and the number of voters checked in was 183.
Schoon said that
poll workers she spoke with remarked positively about the equipment and no
one complained to her, while Kozuszek reported she received phone calls all
through Election Day about problems. Kozuszek said there were voters who
were turned away because of delays with the poll books due to bugs in
There was also a
report that someone in a Portage precinct voted twice, because he was afraid
his vote hadn’t been counted in one location after a problem with the poll
book there and drove to another location, where he was allowed to vote
again. The matter is being looked into by Election Board attorney Ethan
“Never in my 15
years of working elections have we ever had a voter vote twice,” Kozuszek
board, Democratic Portage Mayoral candidate and current Portage Twp. Trustee
Brandan Clancy, along with Portage City Council member Sue Lynch, brought up
that polls in Woodland Park in Portage were unable to access the WiFi
connection and voters had left without receiving a ballot.
“The people who ran
worked real hard to win in this election. To do that and then have a system
that couldn’t function? That’s a travesty!” Lynch said.
Other Democrats who
attended the meeting included Party Chair Jeff Chidester and County Council
member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd.
the connectivity problems not to the machines but to workers who tried to
run the machines in a downstairs location. She said there had been an
internet connection when the equipment was tested upstairs before the
that voters can be checked in even when there are internet connection
problems by typing in a code to override the system.
The board will hold
meetings between now and November to take note of all the problems and solve
them as best they can for the November elections, Bengs said. He had
mentioned that he never expected everything to be perfect in trying out the
poll books for the first time. “We’re looking at every effort to smooth out
“All we can do is
learn from our mistakes,” Schoon added. With more knowledge on what to
expect, she said that the Voter Registration office will step up efforts in
poll worker training classes this fall.
from ES&S said he could not comment on how well electronic poll books have
performed in other counties around the state that use them.
Later on Friday,
Schoon notified news reporters that the board discovered 239 absentee votes
by mail and travel were not logged as part of the CentralPoint total and
were plugged in to the discrepancy total, narrowing the difference to 129
She said that the
“report from the data files” will hopefully tell election officials where
those other missing figures are.