Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Election board approves Chesterton early voting site for general election

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Registered voters in Duneland will not have to venture to Valparaiso or Portage for early voting in the upcoming County general election.

The Porter County Election Board on Friday unanimously approved the Chesterton Town Hall again as a third satellite location for early voting which will start Tuesday, Oct. 9.

This will be only the second time town hall has conducted satellite voting and the first for a general election. The site was used for a trial run during this year’s May primary and out of the three sites, it saw the most traffic.

“It went really well. It was very busy,” said Sundae Schoon, Republican Director for the Voters Registration office.

And “we all know why” said board attorney Clay Patton suggesting the big draw was due to the Duneland School referendum.

This being a presidential election, a larger voter turnout is expected in the county, although officials are estimating the numbers will be nowhere near the tally seen in 2008, a record-setting year for presidential elections.

That year, Voter’s office Democratic Director Kathy Kozuszek said, 17,000 voted early or absentee and both Valparaiso and Portage locations were swamped.

“Twelve thousand (voters) walked through the doors here and in Portage,” Kozuszek said. Five thousand early votes came in the mail.

Saturday voting possible

Board member J.J. Stankiewicz, the Democrat representative, and County Clerk Karen Martin approved a conditional motion to have Chesterton and Portage open on the two Saturdays before the election, Oct. 27 and Nov. 3, as time and space is needed to accommodate those who wish to vote early. Board president and Republican representative Patrick Lyp was absent but gave written proxy to Schoon who also backed the motion.

However, if the turnout is low enough, the board will decide beforehand at a future meeting if having the satellite locations open on those Saturdays is necessary.

Schoon and Kozuszek said there will be some additional expense to pay poll workers for overtime.

Traditionally, just the Valparaiso site at the Voters Registration office would be open on Saturdays. But to have all three sites open, the County Commissioners will also need to approve it and security will be needed.

The board will revisit the matter on Friday, Oct. 19 at 3 p.m.

Early voting for Valparaiso will run 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Voters Registration office.

Portage and Chesterton voting sites will be open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

If Saturday voting is approved, all locations will be open 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The last day to register to vote or make changes is Oct. 9, the same day early voting begins.

Early voting ends at Noon on Monday, Nov. 5. Polls will open the following day at 6 a.m.

High schoolers to work polls

Also, the board authorized 16 and 17 year-old high school students working the polls as clerks and judges for the Nov. 6 election as long as they have an excused absence from their school office.

They will also be eligible to receive pay for their service. Poll clerks and poll judges will receive $110 plus a $15 meal allowance. Polling inspectors, whose roles can only be appointed to those ages 18 and over, are to receive $130 along with the meal allowance.

Those interested in working as a poll worker should call 219-465-3594 to be assigned to a Republican position or 219-465-3496 to be assigned to a Democrat position.

All poll workers must attend a training class and must be residents of Porter County.

Contract renewal to bring savings

Jeremy Burton, the new Indiana Manager for Election Systems and Software, said the vendor contract with the county election board is up at the end of the this year.

If the board decides to renew the contract with ES&S by Dec. 31 for four years, Burton said there will be $46,503 in savings since the county has been very responsible in how it cares for the equipment. The savings would come from the Help America Vote act.

Patton said he would like to review the new contract proposal and would make a recommendation to the board likely at its Nov. 16 meeting.

Conflict over e-mails

The meeting ended on a contentious note when Kozuszek expressed frustration over not being privy to information given to county clerk Martin.

Kozuszek refered to an e-mail from the Indiana Election Division informing county election officials that U.S. Vice-president Joe Biden’s name should appear formally as Joseph Biden on the ballots. The e-mail had been sent to Kozuszek’s GOP counterpart, Schoon, by Martin but not to Kozuszek.

“Sundae and I are both co-directors of this office. It’s a joint effort,” Kozuszek said and argued that all information should be given to the both of them.

“I just don’t appreciate it,” she said.

For her part, Martin, a Republican, said she is just following her chain of command and sends her e-mails to one address to the voter’s office – Schoon’s, apparently – and to the e-mail address of the board president and saw no real reason to go beyond that.

Stankiewicz said the board will work to get the matter resolved.

 

Posted 9/17/2012