Chesterton Tribune



Hearing to be set for Kozuszek election complaint against Martin

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The Porter County Election Board delayed action on a complaint Voters Registration Democratic Director Kathy Kozuszek has lodged against County Clerk Karen Martin.

The board Tuesday tabled the matter to give the complaint its own hearing sometime before the May 6 primary elections.

Kozuszek is facing Martin, a Republican and secretary of the election board, in the November general election but insisted her complaint is not an act of “political posturing.”

In her complaint, Kozuszek alleges Martin has violated several state laws such as interfering with the duties of an election officer by having the locks changed at the voters registration office.

Martin has said that she changed the locks as a measure of security because word got to her that there had been an incident of theft in the office. She said that at no time were employees locked out of their office because she let them in herself prior to the start of office hours.

Other accusations include political intimidation and Martin’s decision to cut the number of poll workers for the primary election in an effort to save taxpayer money. Kozuszek asserted that the law requires unanimous approval from the three election board members in order to do this.

The board on Tuesday voted 2-1 to retain the same number of workers as the 2012 elections with Martin opposed.

The complaint also addresses who holds the keys to the room with the absentee ballots. Kozuszek references an Indiana election law that says keys to the two locks are to be held by the two appointed members of the election board when the equipment is in use.

Martin held the keys and gave them to the County maintenance chief at the board’s March 21 meeting.

Kozuszek told the board Tuesday the keys were still with the maintenance worker while Martin said they were with the County Commission-ers.

The board’s Democratic member J.J. Stankiewicz said that members who are not available all hours of the day to open the lock could designate an election officer to hold their key for them. He said he would give his to a Democratic employee other than Kozuszek while Republican member and board chair David Bengs said he would give his to the Republican Director of the Voters Registration Office, Sundae Schoon.

Stankiewicz motioned to proceed with the hearing at a later date to give both Kozuszek and Martin ample time to present their sides with documents and/or witnesses.

Bengs agreed that a hearing should be held if the issues cannot be resolved and also agreed to a second motion that Martin, being on the board, recuse herself from voting on the complaint or appoint a proxy in her place.

No date was set Tuesday.

With other decisions being made in his absence over the past two months such as satellite voting sites and equipment purchases, Stankiewicz also suggested calling upon the state to permit the board to address issues and make adjustments where necessary prior to the November general election to be in line with the state guidelines.



Posted 4/9/2014