The Porter County
Election Board will hold a public meeting to address complaints from voters
and poll workers related to the 2018 primary election.
The Board met on
Friday to certify the election results and decide the fate of 39 provisional
ballots. But at the beginning of the meeting, Member J.J. Stankiewicz handed
out a written motion to set a future meeting of the Board where members of
the public can freely deliver written complaints and live testimony
regarding their concerns about the election process.
The 2018 primary
was the first election run by Porter County Clerk Karen Martin. In previous
years, the legwork has been done by Porter County Voter Registration and the
notified the Board in March that Porter County is the only county in Indiana
where Voter Registration directors administer elections.
Falling in line,
the Board opted to change Porter County’s operations to fit Indiana code.
The change was partly in response to a letter sent to board members and
other officials by the Democratic Director of Voter Registration, Kathy
Kozuszek, stating that she refused to handle elections going forward because
Porter County’s methods violate state statutes.
Now that the
primary is over, Stankiewicz said he’s gotten numerous complaints about how
the election was run, including some from elected officials and their
relatives. Stankiewicz cited poll worker error as a major factor, saying “I
don’t know how deep it goes.”
Kozuszek added that
there were also some complaints about ADA compliance at polling locations.
Kozuszek, who is
also the Vice-Chairperson for the Porter County Democratic Central
Committee, reported that people have complained to the Voter Registration
office, sometimes five in a day. Chairman for the Porter County Democratic
Central Committee Jeffery Chidester presented a press release supporting
Stankiewicz’s request for a public meeting and listing five complaints.
in the press release:
Congressman Pete Visclosky’s Chief of Staff’s sister-in-law was unable to
vote at the North County Government Complex due to poll worker error in
which she was given the wrong ballot.
* That a
voter was purged from the voter rolls in 2017 by mistake because he had the
same name as someone else who was to be purged.
* That an
absentee ballot was printed for every resident in a nursing home in Porter
County and traveling election officials were responsible for determining
competency this year. This is not common practice in Porter County, and it
resulted in one relative of a nursing home resident calling and saying that
the resident should not have voted due to Alzheimer’s compromising her
understanding of voting.
* That a
voter who requested an absentee ballot several times never got one. When she
tried to vote in person, her license was expired, and she had to vote using
a provisional ballot.
finally, that the election was partisan and dominated by Republican
officials who controlled the poll worker education classes and kept Democrat
appointees out of the loop.
President David Bengs was receptive to the suggestion of a public meeting.
The Board voted unanimously to commit to holding such a meeting. A date and
time for the meeting has not yet been scheduled because Bengs suggested that
people who have already reached out with written complaints be contacted
about what days they would be available to appear. “If we have individuals
who are concerned about the election process, we want to hear from them,” he
Of the 39
provisional ballots, 20 were counted and 19 were discarded. Martin, Kozuszek,
Stankiewicz, Bengs, and Republican Director of Voter Registration Sundae
Schoon decided together which ballots would be counted based on the
circumstances of the vote and Indiana code. The voter cited in Chidester’s
complaints who did not receive an absentee ballot had her provisional vote
counted following her delivery of valid identification to the voter
registration office. The election results were certified by Martin, Bengs,
and Stankiewicz following the decisions on the provisional ballots.
In all, 17,023
votes were cast in the primary in Porter County for a voter turnout of 14.05
percent. 50.77 percent of votes were cast by Republicans and 49.23 percent
by Democrats. Indiana requires primary voters to choose either a Democrat or
Republican party ballot. Porter County has 121,134 registered voters.