Local News

Satisfied Election Board Certifies Primary Results

(LaPorte, IN) - The LaPorte County Election Board convinced there were no improprieties and the final tabulations were accurate certified the results of the June 2 primary on Friday.

           The unanimous decision followed assurances mistakes during the delayed vote tallying were strictly from human error and the corrected figures did not change the outcome of any of the races.

            Board president Nelson Pichardo said mistakes happen and with mail-in voting close to 10 times higher than the 2016 primary the errors were understandable.

            He also said the mistakes were made by Microvote Corporation, a reputable Indianapolis based vendor the county and many others in the state use for counting ballots.

“We had some issues with Microvote.  They were explained.  No one is here trying to sabotage an election,” Pichardo said.

Pichardo, one of two democrats on the board, is now president after former president, republican Andrew Voeltz, resigned Sunday.

His seat was filled by republican Chuck Waterson, who was appointed vice-president.

The errors involved running vote tabulations doubling before the count was finished and 111 ballots from Coolspring Township seemingly coming up missing.

Steve Shamo, general manager of Microvote Corporation, said data from one of the voting machines was transferred to a fourth machine brought in to help count the influx of absentee ballots.

However, the totals were not cleared prior to the transfer causing both machines to contain the same ballot count, he said.

Shamo said the correction was quickly made after being made aware of the situation.

He said the so-called missing ballots discovered a week later were actually counted but later deleted by accident while scanning ballots from another precinct into the same counting machine.

Shamo said he also discovered and corrected that mistake quickly once alerted to the issue.

The explanation pleased many of the 50 people in attendance but others remained suspicious and pointed out what they alleged were other flaws in the process.

Allen Stevens of Hanna said republicans were not asked to appoint members from the party to help oversee some of the vote counting as required by state law.

LaPorte County Clerk Kathy Chroback said there were two members of each party already present.

Stevens, though, said one of the republicans is an employee of her office.

His wife, Heather Stevens, is running against Chroback, a democrat, in November.

“I’m not going to argue with you.  I notify your party and they don’t send anyone anyway,” she said.

There were also grumblings about lack of transparency.

Waterson, though, said the process was open enough to allow the mistakes to be discovered and quickly corrected.

            He also vowed to get to the bottom of things to avoid problems from happening in November.

            “I was just appointed this week.  I don’t know what the system was.  I will find out what the system was but there does need to be a better system,” he said.

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