Chesterton Tribune


Population shifts prompt election officials to eye precinct changes

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Some voting precincts in Porter County have outgrown the state-recommended limit of active voters and that could mean changes in the future.

At Tuesday’s County Election Board meeting, Voter Registration Democratic Director Kathy Kozuszek and Republican Director Sundae Schoon said some precincts have “too many” voters and they would look at ways to begin evening them out.

Board attorney Clay Patton said according to a state law, counties can change precincts or establish new ones as long as they don’t cross the threshold of 1,200 active voters, or in some cases 1,400.

Kozuszek said due to population shifts election officials combined or eliminated a handful of precincts at the beginning of this year including in Westchester Twp. where precincts 2 and 12 were combined with 9 and 15, respectively.

She said the office is “comfortable with the way it is now” with the current 123 precincts but would do some canvassing at the start of next year for population maps the board can look at.

Board president and Republican representative Patrick Lyp said this will be a good time to make changes since there are no county or municipal elections next year. Precinct modifications can made at any time as long as they are done before filing begins for candidates, which next will be January 2014, Patton said.

For the voters, Lyp said the biggest possible change would be to have to vote at a different location.

Ogden Dunes redistricting

In attendance were two representatives from the Town of Ogden Dunes, Clerk-Treasurer Jean Manna and Town Council member Paul Panther, who proposed minor changes to their five town council wards.

“It’s not much different than it was ten years ago,” Panther said.

The state this year is requiring municipalities to redistrict based on population data from the 2010 Census.

Manna and Panther said the town wishes to keep its five-ward structure as opposed to having an all At-Large member board which is an option for towns with a population of less than 3,500. Ogden Dunes’ population is a little more than 1,100, Panther said, which is 600 less than the previous Census.

Redistricting is to be done not through the Election Board but through an ordinance the town would have to file with the County Clerk’s office 30 days after it is passed.

Kozuszek said there have been some issues and confusion in the past with redistricting as it can change who can potentially run in the districts. After a redistricting, candidates are asked to check with the Voters Registration office about what office or seat they can run for.

Potential savings in new contract

Also on Tuesday, the board learned from Indiana Regional Manager for Election Systems and Software Jeremy Burton that if the County chooses to renew a four-year contract with ES&S, the contract would be $46,500 less than the previous four-year contract.

Burton said the contract would be good until 2016, the next presidential election. He said the relationship ES&S has had with Porter County has been “very successful” and they would like to offer a discount.

ES&S is the largest provider of election equipment in Indiana, Burton said

Lyp said he would favor the renewal but since his other board members Democrat representative J.J. Stankiewicz and County Clerk Karen Martin were not present, he delayed a motion until they can agree on a time to meet which would be in the next week. Burton said he would need the board’s decision by Dec. 31.

Lyp said the board has made the County Commissioners aware of the need for more space to house the voting machines and if that is achieved the County could see additional savings in decreased maintenance costs.



Posted 12/6/2012