Friday night”--That’s the latest word from Porter County Clerk Karen Martin,
who just before deadline today told the Chesterton Tribune when the
final vote count would be available.
Following a special
meeting of the Election Board at noon, Martin said that three Democrats and
three Republicans were doing the counting, that around half of it was done,
and that 68 precincts were completed.
deadline on Wednesday, the Porter County Board of Commissioners released two
statements--one to say that all votes cast early, as absentees, and at the
polls between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Tuesday will be counted with results
expected Thursday. Provisionals, including any votes cast at locations that
stayed open past 6 p.m. by court mandate, will be counted ten days after the
election, as is normal procedure for provisional ballots.
As of this morning,
Porter County Republican Committee Chair Michael Simpson and Democrat Chair
Jeff Chidester both said they were last updated at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Simpson
said he expected to hear more at noon today. Chidester said he was told
yesterday that all the votes had been counted with the exception of Center
and Portage Townships, but counting continued until nearly midnight
Biggs, R-North, for his part, reported counting has been almost nonstop and
the concern now is for accuracy rather than speed. “There’s a
hypersensitivity at this time to make sure that everything is done
Blaney, D-South, attributed the hold-up to absentee ballots which hadn’t
been sorted. “They’re doing what every precinct would have done during
normal voting hours, and they’re being extra careful,” she said.
“They’re being very
diligent, they’re very tired, but they’re doing a good job,” Blaney added.
Chidester said the
Election Board is counting, not once nor twice, but three times to ensure
it’s right. He also said, “They uncovered additional absentee ballots.”
As for rumors about
lost or misplaced ballots, Biggs said, “I have not received any information
that there’s any other ballots that can’t be found or are in another
The other statement
released yesterday: an announcement that the Commissioners have called in
the FBI “to request an investigation into scores of alleged potential
violations of Indiana Election Law.” The allegations have been leveled by
poll workers, voters, and the general public, according to the
When asked her
thoughts on potential FBI involvement in investigating the
election--Martin’s first after the Republican majority Election Board voted
earlier this year, in a decision split along party lines, to relieve the
Voter Registration office of its election responsibilities and transfer them
to the Clerk’s office--Martin declined to comment. Martin herself is on the
ballot for County Auditor, and she also declined to say whether, if elected,
she would turn down the position in light of the controversy.
Biggs said that the
decision to call the FBI was a joint effort between himself, Blaney, and
County Attorney Scott McClure. Commissioner Jeff Good, R-Center was made
aware of the decision but did not weigh in due to his being on the ballot.
“It became more and
more clear to us that there were enough complaints to warrant another set of
eyes looking at this to ensure that everyone who took the time out of their
days to vote, their vote counts, and every candidate that took the time and
made the sacrifice of running for office is treated fairly,” Biggs said.
Biggs cited included these: chain of custody violations, incorrectly
advertised polling locations, candidates breaching secured areas at polling
places, insecure ballots, and deliberate sabotage of the process.
Blaney said, “To be
honest, I don’t think we’ll find criminal behavior. But there are so many
things that have gone on, I think we would be irresponsible not to have
specially trained people take a closer look.”
Simpson said so far
he only knows what the public knows about FBI involvement. “There’s wild
speculation. If there’s been impropriety, I would certainly want to know
Simpson also said
he thinks that the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office, which administers
elections, might be a more appropriate contact than the FBI.
to weigh-in on FBI involvement, citing the fact that there may be a lot of
blame to go around later. “I don’t want to engage in any armchair
Biggs said that no
one involved--not the County Clerk, the party chairmen, or the Election
Board--could explain what went wrong on election night. He reported that the
FBI was chosen due to its special task force for investigating elections,
for the complexity of the issue, and because election tampering is a federal
crime. Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel was not involved due to his
being on the ballot.
Blaney said, “This
is about restoring voter confidence. People need to know the election was
sound. There’s just not a lot of confidence right now.”
Biggs added the
caveat that there is no guarantee the FBI will be inclined to investigate.
Biggs, Blaney, and McClure are meeting with FBI officials this afternoon.
Biggs said every
election has its speedbumps, but this one was “catastrophic.” He added, “We
can’t have an election like this. It reverberates through the whole County,
and it has long-lasting consequences going forward. It affects who votes in
the future, who volunteers to help with elections.”
against blaming one person. “There’s not a single individual that could have
messed up this election as bad as it was,” Biggs said. “To point the finger
of blame completely at the County Clerk at this point I think is making a
mistake. Without a doubt she has a role, but very likely there were other
things at play here.”
Biggs said that he
expects some might see a call to the FBI as heavy-handed, but he’s not
concerned with anyone’s feelings. “I’m concerned about keeping intact what
integrity is left in this election and this County’s reputation.”
“If you’re asking
me to clean up your mess, don’t complain about what kind of mop I’m using.”