The commissioners in a northwestern Indiana county plagued by a mix of Election Day problems asked the FBI on Wednesday to investigate what they called “scores of alleged violations of Indiana Election Law” reported following Tuesday’s election.
Porter County officials did not begin counting votes until Wednesday morning, more than 15 hours after the first polling places closed. The delay was holding up final election results in three state legislative races, those for House districts 4 and 19 and Senate District 7.
The commissioners’ office said in a statement late Wednesday afternoon that the commissioners had asked the FBI to investigate the alleged election violations reported “by poll workers, voters and the public.” The commissioners’ statement did not specify what those alleged violations involved.
Messages left Wednesday seeking comment from the FBI were not immediately returned.
County Commissioner Laura Blaney said the vote counting delay was caused by several problems, including the need for 12 county polling sites to stay open late Tuesday after those sites failed to open on time. Absentee and early ballots had also not been sorted in a timely fashion Tuesday, she said.
County election board deputies who began counting election ballots sat around folding tables Wednesday in the county’s voter registration office in the county seat of Valparaiso, about 15 miles southeast of Gary, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.
The commissioners said they have ordered the sheriff’s department to guard all election ballots and to secure the county’s election office.
Sundae Schoon, the voter registration office’s Republican director, said all votes cast between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday, as well as absentee ballots and early votes, would be counted Wednesday before any results will be released.
Provisional ballots and those cast after 6 p.m. Tuesday at the dozen precincts where voting was extended would be counted Nov. 16.
Schoon and her Democratic counterpart, Kathy Kozuszek, were appointed by the election board and political party chairs to monitor the vote tabulation.
“We are being very thorough,” Kozuszek said.
Porter County commissioner Jim Biggs attributed the county’s woes to a variety of factors, including heavy voter turnout, but said “big changes” were needed to prevent a report of the situation in the county of about 170,000 residents.
“What we have here is a total breakdown in the process,” he said.