Chesterton Tribune



Final primary vote count fails to break 40 percent turnout

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No outcomes were changed and no turnout records were broken in the official count of Porter County’s 2016 primary election vote.

As required by state law, the County Election Board on Friday counted military and overseas ballots as well as provisional ballots that met the requirements to be accepted ten days after election for the final vote tallies.

There were 58 additional ballots counted in the official results compared to the results posted on Election Night, 57 of which were provisional ballots. The grand total is 49,513 ballots cast -- 26,425 Republican and 23,088 Democrat -- for a voter turnout of 39.83 percent.

The votes were certified 3-0 by the County Election Board.

Democratic Director of the Voters Registration Office Kathy Kozuszek said her hope was to see an over 40 percent turnout for the County this year, although its much larger than the 2012 presidential election that saw 21.3 percent turnout in the primaries. The 2008 primaries however saw a record 41.46 percent turnout

Democratic Election Board member said he’s sad to see that “more than half of the voters stayed home” this election.

Dismal turnouts have been an issue that election boards in the state and state legislators are trying to improve. Indiana has one of the lowest voter turnouts on average in the nation.

The new tally did not affect the outcome of any races, a notable difference from the final counts of the 2015 general elections that saw two tie votes in races for the Chesterton Town Council and Beverly Shores Town Council as provisional ballots were counted.

“We weren’t biting our nails this time waiting to see if anything was going to change,” Kozuszek said.

Provisional ballots are issued when a voter forgets to bring their government-issued ID with them or if their name in the poll book is highlighted for needing more information, Kozuszek said.

If the voter can show the proper documentation to the voters registration office up to 10 days after the election, their ballot gets counted.

Improvements needed

During the certification process, Stakiewicz said he would ask that the vendor, Election Systems & Software, do a better job color coding the ballots by party and have more testing of the equipment before its goes out.

He also asked if more should be done about the fact that the voter count made by poll workers and the total number of ballots did not match in 40 percent of the precincts. Election workers were working past 11 p.m. on Election Night to work out the disparities.

Election Board President and Republican member David Bengs agreed there need to be improvements and it will be something to work on before the fall election.

“We all hope it will get better,” he said.

Voters asked to register by deadline

Meanwhile, Kozuszek told the Chesterton Tribune about other difficulties on Election Day. She said this election was “the worst (she’s) seen” with callers “jamming up” the phone lines asking where to vote or asking how they can register to vote, even within five minutes before the polls closed.

The office tries to keep its main phone lines open for election workers with questions. There are separate numbers voters are asked to call on Election Day to find their polling location. Kozuszek said they can also check at or on the County’s GIS website.

Kozuszek said her best advice would be for voters to call the voters registration office ahead of Election Day.

“That way they know their vote will count,” she said. “Just go ahead and call us.”

As for registering to vote, the state closed registrations for the primary election on April 4. Registration opens up on Tuesday, May 17 but Kozuszek said people can still complete and hand in forms at the voters registration office, 155 Indiana Ave. in Valparaiso, Suite 105.

The voters registration office is keeping a pile of forms ready.

Voters must register by Oct.11 to vote in the 2016 general election

Ballot vacancies

With the primaries over, local party chairs can fill ballot vacancies between now and July 5 for the November General Election.

The two vacancies for local county races are the Republican candidate slots for South District County Commissioner and Porter County Superior Court 3 Judge.

School board

The fall election will have more races with the addition of school board representatives.

In Duneland, there will be two seats up this year -- the Jackson Twp. representative and one at-large seat. The current seatholders are Kristin Kroeger and John Marshall, respectively.

The first day candidates may file petitions for school board is July 27 with the last day being Aug. 26.



Posted 5/16/2016





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