Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, was cautiously hopeful--at 8:45 a.m.
today--that by mid- or late-morning ballot counters in the Voter
Registration Office would begin posting election results.
Yet after an
Election Day in which, seemingly, anything that could go wrong did, Biggs
expressed a nagging concern over the unknown unknowns. “I suspect there are
other issues no one has uncovered yet,” he told the Chesterton Tribune.
“So much went wrong with the process last night, commonsense tells me we
haven’t seen everything. And until we do, I don’t know how you can think of
placing a stamp of approval on the results as official.”
What went wrong?
Begin with the
failure of 12 polling places--four of them in Duneland: Liberty 3, and
Westchester 9, 13, and 14--to open on time at 6 a.m. Porter Superior Court
Judge Roger Bradford, the only sitting Superior or Circuit court judge in
the county not to have a personal or familial connection to Tuesday’s
election, subsequently ordered those 12 polling places to remain open past 6
p.m., four of them until 8:30 p.m.
But there were
other issues, many of them, Biggs said. Polling places were inadequately
staffed and poll workers either ill trained or poorly instructed. “Which is
unbelievable to me.” In one case, a poll worker, tired of waiting for
someone to collect the ballots late Tuesday night, put a To Whom It May
Concern note on the door, saying that he’d gone home and taken the ballots
with him. Sheriff’s deputies were later sent to the poll worker’s residence
to secure the ballots, Biggs said, and “luckily the seals were unbroken.”
Also, according to
Porter County Democrat Party Central Committee Chair Jeff Chidester: up to
15,000 absentee and early ballots which were supposed to have been delivered
to their respective polling places before they closed were not. Judge Pro
Tem Julia Jent subsequently issued an order of her own, that absentee and
early ballots must be counted, following a motion filed by local Democrats
concerned that those ballots would simply be tossed.
“What a mess.”
And at the
epicenter of that mess, Biggs told the Tribune: Porter County Clerk
Karen Martin, whose office assumed jurisdiction of the election process
earlier this year after the Republican majority Porter County Election Board
split-voted along party lines to relieve the Porter County Voter
Registration Office of that responsibility. “A total, absolute breakdown of
the process, and that process should have started in the Clerk’s Office,”
Biggs said. “And that process failed miserably. Karen Martin appeared to me,
from my conversation with her last night, to be overwhelmed.”
term-limited Republican, is running this year for Porter County Auditor.
the election “should never have been turned over (a) to a person who’s
running for election,” Biggs said, “(b) to a person who has never run an
election, and (c) to someone who has personal problems with key management
in Voter Registration. It was a recipe for a disaster. It should have been
pretty academic that people knew what they were doing.”
guarantee to any extent that this will change unless we enact change,” Biggs
“We can’t in clear
conscience hand this over again to the people who stood and watched it fall
apart last night. It has to change. I’ve always considered Porter County a
shining star in Northwest Indiana. We didn’t shine so bright last night. And
Board officials were counting ballots this morning, although the
Chesterton Tribune was unable to reach anyone to confirm. Biggs said
that it was his belief that counting began at 7 a.m.
Biggs added that,
before he left last night around midnight, he personally asked two Sheriff’s
deputies to remain at the Administration Building overnight to secure all
ballots. Sheriff Dave Reynolds, for his part, told the Tribune that
he’s assigned deputies to remain with the ballots until the counting has
Republican Central Committee Chair Michael Simpson said that the Election
Board is being supervised by Sundae Schoon and Kathy Kozuszek, respectively
the Republican and Democrat directors of Voter Registration, who are
watching the count for accuracy. “All I’m interested in is a bipartisan
ballot count. People need to know the results.”
meanwhile, told the Tribune that voters can expect results late this
afternoon or evening.