Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Election board throws out complaint; certifies 2010 election results

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Porter County Election Board on Friday officially declared the results of this year’s general election with 47 votes added to the official tally, none of which tipped the outcome of any races.

Kathy Koszuszek, Democratic director in the voters registration office, said out of the 24 provisional ballots cast during the Nov. 2 election, only three confirmed their eligibility to vote with the voters office. Provisional ballots, which are issued when a poll worker is unable to confirm a voter’s registration status, were due to the office by noon on Friday, ten days after the election.

The office also collected a total of 27 military or overseas ballots.

Republican election board member Patrick Lyp said in the past there would be “hundreds” of provisional ballots and seeing fewer cases recently indicates the registration office has worked hard to improve operations.

Twelve instances of write-in candidates were also validated for two candidates, Jim Miller and Jack Rooney.

Kozuszek reported to the board that the election ran smoothly as far as election software systems and workers go. She did say there were a few mail-in ballots that presented problems due to the way they had been folded.

Official results will now be sent to the state’s election division for its approval. They can also be viewed on the Voters Registration Web page on the county’s Web site, www.porterco.org.

The official results show that 45,321 of the county’s 105,885 registered voters casted their ballots this year, a percentage of 42.80. That’s about ten percent less than the county’s pervious mid-term elections in 2006.

Koszuszek said the closest race was the Pine Twp. Trustee race between Democrat Andy Himan and Republican Eric L. Camel. Himan defeated Camel by just five votes according to the official results.

During the meeting, the board considered a challenge made by Wallace M. Wojtkowski of Valparaiso. Wojtkowski issued a complaint with the voters registration office a week before the election over a campaign letter endorsing Center Twp. Trustee Republican incumbent Charles Conover.

Wojtkowski felt the letter’s author, Valparaiso Fire Chief David Nondorf, stepped out of bounds of state law by signing his title to the letter. Wojtkowski believed Nondorf to be in violation of the law that rules officials cannot campaign for candidates while in uniform.

Nondorf is a city official appointed by Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas.

The letter’s return address allegedly had Nondorf’s name as well as on the letter containing a watermark of the Valparaiso Firefighter’s Local 1124 union seal. The mailing was paid for by the Committee to Elect Charles W. Conover Trustee.

Wojtkowski believed the letter was unfairly targeting the largest demographic of voting residents, senior citizens. He was especially concerned with the letter’s concluding sentence that inferred fire safety for the township may falter under the leadership of a new trustee.

“I consider that, as a citizen, to be a scare tactic,” said Wojtkowski, who said he has no relationship with Conover’s challenger Democrat Michael Essany.

Wojtkowski did not state what form of relief he was seeking when asked by Lyp what actions he wished the election board to take.

The board’s attorney Clay Patton said the election board does not have jurisdiction over the fire chief, just Conover.

Lyp, also an attorney, believed the jurisdiction belonged to the City of Valparaiso and suggested that Wojtkowski take his complaint to their offices.

“The City of Valparaiso may have their own rules as to how employees are to conduct themselves for the election,” Lyp said.

Election board member and County Clerk Pamela Mishler Fish said Wojtkowski can take the matter to the county prosecutor.

In a 2-1 vote, the board officially dismissed the objection with votes from Lyp and Fish. Board president J.J. Stankiewicz voted no, wanting to hear more from Nondorf’s side.

Also on Friday, the board unanimously voted to renew a one-year agreement with Electronic Software and Systems for 2011 after expressing satisfaction with this year’s election performance. The vendor agreement will also be revisited for 2012.

 

Posted 11/15/2010

 

 

 

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