Chesterton Tribune



'Bubble' area residents to get their own ballots

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Election ballots are being made for the two voters in Westchester Twp. precinct 17 who reside in what has become known as a “bubble area” in a recent dispute involving the new County Council voting districts, the Porter County Voters Registration Office said.

All of Westchester Precinct 17 was inside County Council District 2 until last Wednesday when the County Board of Commissioners abided by LaPorte County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Alevizos’ order to amend their ordinance to redistrict and place a detached section of the precinct within County Council District 1.

Republican Director in the Voters Registration Office Sundae Schoon told the Chesterton Tribune after Friday’s Election Board meeting that those two residents will be given ballots with District 1 instead of District 2 and there will be markings in the poll books so poll workers know that those residents living in the bubble area are to receive special ballots.

Schoon said her office will make sure the ballots will be available at all of the satellite locations for early voting in the days leading up to the May 6 primary elections.

The ballots will also be available at the polling location on May 6, she said.

Schoon said having two or more kinds of ballots in the same precinct is a common occurrence that the voters office watches out for, especially where there are school board races or municipal races.

One example she said are the two voting precincts in Pine Twp. where a portion of both precincts vote in the Duneland School Corp. while another portion votes in the Michigan City Area Schools District. Other examples are precincts within the Portage City municipal limits which extend into parts of precincts in Westchester Twp.

“We see those kinds of splits all the time,” Schoon said.

Delinquent campaign committees

Meanwhile, in the business portion of Friday’s meeting, the Election Board decided to allow a few more days for four campaign committees which have been stagnant for three years or more to respond to requests asking them to dissolve on their own terms.

Friday was the last day to review records and determine if a committee is subject to dissolution by administrative action, according to Indiana election laws.

The board’s new attorney Ethan Lowe said it is his interpretation of the law that it is only required that the review process begins by Jan. 31 and that the board could still take action to eliminate those committees after that date.

The law gives an election board the right to dissolve a campaign committee if certain criteria are reached: the committee has not filed any report of expenditures in the past three years or more, has less than $1,000 of cash on hand and has no reported debts.

In the effort to do a little “house cleaning,” Schoon said she had found five committees that could be subject to dissolution but one had closed out before the meeting.

Two of the remaining committees she named were from former Porter Town Council candidates, most recently Todd Martin who ran for the Council in 2011 and Lorrie Wickberg who ran in 2007.

Schoon’s other delinquent committees were for a Porter County Coroner candidate, Joe Clinkenbeard, who ran in 2010 and Gregg Frame, a Kouts Clerk-Treasurer candidate from 2007.

Schoon’s Democratic counterpart Kathy Kozuszek said she found three committees from her records and two had disbanded on their own before the meeting. The one remaining belongs to Kelly Teel who ran for Hebron Town Council in 2007.

Notices had been sent to the listed addresses for the candidates informing them of the delinquency by the voters registration offices over the years, Schoon and Kozuszek said. Both said they do not know the exact reasons why there have not been responses.

Lowe suggested sending out one last notice by certified mail and if they do not hear back by the board’s next meeting in February, the board could make its decision.

Agreeing where board members Republican David Bengs, Democrat J.J. Stankiewicz and County Clerk Karen Martin.

The board will meet sometime after Feb. 14 for the purpose of hearing any challenges to the validity of candidates who have filed in the 2014 filing period which expires at noon at Feb. 7.

The board also scheduled a date in March to determine the satellite locations for early voting.



Posted 2/3/2014