The Board of
Commissioners is calling on the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office to
investigate the handling of Tuesday’s general election after 12 polling
places didn’t open on time, absentee and early votes were never delivered to
many precincts on Election day, and a multitude of poll worker and voter
Biggs, R-North, made the motion at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting
directing County Attorney Scott McClure to draft a letter outlining the
problems with the Election and asking for investigation by the Secretary of
State’s Office and the Indiana State Police.
Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, made the choice to involve the FBI last
week, and FBI officials visited Porter County last Thursday. Tuesday, Blaney
made a point to explain the multiple calls. “The FBI and the agencies we
talked about contacting today, they have different roles and different
things they’ll look at.”
Blaney said the FBI would focus more on voter suppression and voter fraud,
whereas the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office would determine what areas
of Indiana code may have been violated.
Biggs said the
Board will make every effort to be sure nothing like this happens again in
probably don’t know that all three of the County Commissioners are native
residents of Porter County. I think I can say on their behalf, that was a
very embarrassing situation to see our County experience,” Biggs said.
“There are very few things this County could have experienced that would
damage its reputation as much as what happened Tuesday [Nov. 6] night.”
Blaney added, “I
think what’s most important to us is to have a fair election and have it go
smoothly. We’re proud to be from Porter County, and we want everyone else to
be proud too.”
Three members of
the public--all of whom worked the polls this past Election and in the
primary--addressed the Board hoping to see change in how the workers are
Kathy Sipple, of
Valparaiso, proposed that “an ad hoc committee of both parties and poll
workers with varied amounts of experience would be very beneficial to be
sure the poll worker experience is included in addressing training.”
The inspector who
worked with Sipple reported hearing a lot of first time poll workers vow to
never work an Election again. Sipple provided the Board with a printout of a
Google Document where at least five poll workers have shared their
experiences in detail.
Robert Haver, who
has worked the polls for 30 of the 32 years that have passed since he turned
18, asked that the payment for poll workers be processed faster this year as
a nod to the fact that many workers had a 20-hour day and took on extra
duties. He also mentioned that the Board should consider allocating extra
funds to increase the pay. “I walked out the door at 4 a.m. and pulled in my
driveway a few minutes to midnight. I was given one precinct and at 6:30
Monday evening, was asked to do another one,” he said.
Biggs agreed that
“no one signed up” for what happened in the Election and said he has
informally talked to three members of the County Council who would be in
favor of increasing the pay.
In the meantime,
County Auditor Vicki Urbanik said she has a plan to fast track the payments
once she gets all the required information from the Clerk’s Office.
“They need to tell
us who worked the polls and in what position,” Urbanik said. Then, she’ll
need to obtain up-to-date payroll forms from everyone if they are not
already on file. This is the part Urbanik has a plan for. The Clerk’s
Office, however, has given her no indication of when the data on who worked
will be ready.
The Board accepted
the Porter County Substance Abuse Council third quarter report. Executive
Director Dawn Pelc reported that the Council has received $375,000 in grant
funding to provide mental health education to the public over the next five
years. The education will be done working with Porter-Starke Services. Pelc
says it will be for teachers, police officers, and anyone else interested.
The Board approved
a contract brought by Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder for Appraisal
Research Counselors to help the Assessor’s Office meet its annual adjustment
deadline, which has been moved up from August of next year to March 1.
Appraisal Research was the low bidder of three, proposing a $41,500