Porter County Clerk
Jessica Bailey reported to the Election Board what she’s doing to avoid the
mistakes that led to a shortage of poll workers on election day, thousands
of uncounted absentee ballots, and delayed results in the November 2018
on the causes of Porter County’s election failures from Ball State
University’s nonpartisan Voting Systems Technical Oversight Program (VSTOP)
and Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Bailey made a presentation to
the Election Board at its meeting Thursday explaining what’s being done
differently in her office’s preparations for the upcoming primary.
Bailey began by
saying she’s addressing the issue of poll worker recruitment and training
with a focus on attracting new workers and recapturing those who have worked
in the past.
“We thought it was
important for everyone to realize that we do admit the failings in 2018,”
Bailey said. “it was not the poll workers’ fault. They needed better
training. They needed better communication, and we’re trying to do that this
Bailey said she
needs 306 workers. She reported that 83 people had applied via the website
or in-person at the time of the meeting, and Porter County Republican Party
Chairman Michael Simpson had provided her with a list of 90 more interested
Democrat Party Chairman Jeff Chidester promised her a list on Monday, March
25, well in advance of the State’s mid-April deadline for chairmen to
provide their election day worker lists. Both Chairmen have provided their
lists of workers for early voting and the travel board ahead of the
Bailey said she
asked Simpson and Chidester to have their election day lists ready early
because she wants to meet every hurdle well in advance of required
deadlines. By law, county party chairmen are supposed to provide lists of
interested poll workers, and the Election Board (or its designee, which is,
in this case, Bailey) makes up the difference if there are not enough.
accusation from the November general election was that the party chairs
didn’t provide enough workers. Bailey said Simpson and Chidester are working
with her this time. “They are both being accommodating and reaching those
Bailey said her
office is making use of the Expo Center, Memorial Opera House, and Porter
County Realtors email lists to get the word out about working the polls. She
has also reached out to electronic news outlets like PortageLife and
ValpoLife, and local chambers of commerce, and is using social media,
including paid boosted Facebook ads. She estimates she has reached
approximately 11,500 people through emails alone.
The poll worker
page on the Porter County Website has been updated, with links for
interested people to contact their party chairmen and updated information
about poll worker responsibilities and compensation. The site is
Bailey said any
questions submitted through the website’s contact form will be addressed
within two days.
Bailey will be
having mandatory in-person training sessions for which workers are paid $50.
The training will last three hours and be available on a variety of dates at
a variety of times at different locations throughout the County.
Board member David
Bengs said many of these changes coincide with the recommendations from
VSTOP and the Secretary of State. Bailey even said she set some of changes
into motion before the report was released.
“I met with the
Secretary of State before we had a chance to look at the report,” Bailey
said. “When I sat down with the VSTOP team, the Secretary of State and the
rest of the team, I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of things they had
mentioned were things we were already moving toward.”
The VSTOP team
recommended the County form its own poll worker manual, keep a list of
reliable back-up workers, train all workers in person, and limit recruitment
efforts to the Clerk’s office and party chairmen.
recommended the Clerk create a well-defined, written protocol for handling
absentee ballots, create an updated election checklist, and hire additional
staff for the election.
Bailey noted that
the new equipment the County recently purchased includes a machine that will
be used to count all absentee ballots at a central location and that she has
brought on two new people to do election work.
Bailey said she is
also cooperating with VSTOP’s recommendation that they be allowed to observe
the next two elections and conduct risk-limiting audits of any races with
margins of less than five percent. In January, VSTOP conducted an audit on
the 2018 general election, and Bailey reported she changed the way ballots
are stored to make future audits simpler.
In addition to
hearing Bailey’s presentation, the Board instructed Board Attorney Monica
Conrad to send a notice to 16 political candidates and politicians notifying
them of their failure to file end-of-year campaign finance reports. The
Board also plans to revisit its policy on handling delinquency in filing
The Board welcomed
its new Democrat appointee David Welter, a Chesterton resident and
Valparaiso University law professor who fills J.J. Stankewicz’s spot as
resigned Monday following the release of a video of him yelling at Bailey
that prompted 15 Porter County Democrat politicians to call for his
resignation. Stankiewicz was also named in the Secretary of State’s letter
as one of the three people most responsible for the November 2018 election
some important dates. Campaign finance reports are due April 22, and the
public test of election equipment will be April 8, at a yet to be determined
The last day to
register to vote is April 8. Early voting starts April 9.