Secretary of State’s Office on Friday said Porter County’s new electronic
poll books are not to blame for the technical problems reported in this past
May’s municipal primary elections.
Instead, a report
conducted by the Voting System Technical Oversight Program (VSTOP)
attributes the snafus to poll workers, poor internet connection at polling
locations, ballot counting machine failures, router failures, “confusing”
voter tally sheets and “inadequate” poll worker training.
A summary of the
report was released Friday along with a statement issued from Secretary of
State Connie Lawson. VSTOP is tasked with documenting issues with equipment
sold to counties by vendors and making recommendations relevant for the
functioning of that equipment.
VSTOP’s conclusions, I’m confident there was not a problem with the e-PollBooks,”
Lawson said in her statement. “There were several other factors that lead to
the discrepancy between ballots counted and the total number of voters
voting. There was human error in recording the number of people who voted
before turning off the machines, there was equipment error with the machines
that scan the cast ballots and a router failed at one location. These
difficulties were compounded when the poll workers went to reconcile vote
totals. There was trouble recording and calculating vote totals and
confusion with tally sheets.”
President and Republican representative David Bengs told the Chesterton
Tribune on Monday that “it’s no shock” what the report said after he and
fellow Election Board member and County Clerk Karen Martin, also a
Republican, had stated before that “human error” was what caused the
“I think (the
report) shows clearly that this is our first time using the e-poll books,”
Bengs said. “We’re going to up the training for our poll workers and the
vendor is going to be here to help with that.”
Martin said she has
made arrangements with Electronic Systems and Software (ES&S) to provide
more training this fall which will “alleviate many of the issues” and “the
equipment will be thoroughly checked prior to being put in the field.”
critics of stating misinformation and making false statements of poor
performance by the e-PollBooks and purports that “partisan politics with the
sole purpose to stop Porter County from making any progress in the election
VSTOP began its
investigation following a complaint filed by Democratic Director of the
Voters Registration office and County Democratic Party Vice-Chair Kathy
Kozuszek and an inquiry by Indiana State Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, who
had informed Democratic Co-Chair of the Indiana Election Division Trent
Deckard on Election Day -- Tuesday, May 5 -- of “several electronic poll
between the Republican-dominated County Election Board and a few key
Democrats when it came time for the voting results to be certified 10 days
after the election. Kozuszek said the vote count from the central point
server on Election Night was 334 votes different than the count from the
voting tapes and argued the vote could not be certified.
complaint filed on May 14 alleged that Bengs authorized vendor Electronic
Systems and Software to “break the seals on the electronic poll books to
determine what when wrong” in an attempt to reconcile the number of poll
book check-ins with that of voted ballots.
Program Manager of
the Indiana State Voter Registration System (SVRS) Christian Hoberland had
received word from Martin that there were some issues because poll workers
had forgotten to turn on their routers at a few locations, according to the
VSTOP report. Martin further reported that there were problems with the M100
voting scanners and that some workers shut down the e-Poll Books without
copying the number of voters processed.
On June 9, VSTOP
interviewed Martin, Kozuzsek, Bengs, Democratic County Election Board member
James J. Stankiewicz, Republican Voters Registration Director Sundae Schoon
and two representatives from vendor Electronic Systems and Software.
VSTOP said the data
collected from ES&S and the SVRS showed that with the addition of absentee
ballots, the discrepancy between voter check-ins and ballots counted was
reduced to 35.
The report said
that Martin, Kozuszek and poll workers all indicated there were problems
with the M100 voting scanners in reading some of the ballots.
that Porter County adopt the method of providing record tally sheets for
each hour the polls are open, as well as “good and continuous internet
connectivity” by providing “redundant methods of electronic communication.”
The County Council
still hasn’t approved the purchase of the poll books that were acquired this
year, and have vetoed the Election Board’s request at least twice. Bengs
said the matter will be addressed again in the next few weeks when the board
has its second reading on its 2016 proposed budget by the Council.
Bengs believes the
report’s results will help in the case for funding and has shared the
reports with the Council and County Commissioners.
Dems speak out
Kozuszek told the
Tribune Monday that her actions are not motivated by partisan
politics because for her it’s about how the equipment was purchased and
implemented. The poll books did not arrive until a week before election,
giving the poll workers not much time to learn the new equipment.
“It was all rushed
through,” Kozuszek said.
She and Democratic
Party Chair Jeff Chidester said it is upsetting that the report points the
finger at poll workers, many of them older and used to the traditional
methods of using paper ballots.
“To blame the poll
worker, I think is wrong,” Kozuszek said.
Kozuszek also said
she filed her complaint not because of politics but so that the state could
investigate the performance of the e-poll books.
She said that
training workers on the e-poll books would nearly double the length of the
classes to two to three hours and it’s supposed to be the Election Board,
not Voters Registration that does the training.
Chidester said he
finds it “a bad thing” that the election board is “experimenting with
elections” and worries that voter turnout will be lower than it is now with
all the problems report.
“The system doesn’t
do what it’s supposed to do,” Chidester said.
mentioned that VSTOP is the organization that had certified the poll books
for use in the state, expressing doubts that the report would have found
fault with the devices.