Michelle Senderhauf, publishing on Medium, has a ground level account of what looks to be a fiasco in the administration of the Porter County elections. From her end, it sounds like a failure in training, preparation, and staffing all around. The reporting from the NWITimes indicates that elections had previously been administered by the Porter County Voter Registration Office. That authority was transferred to the Clerk’s office earlier this year on a 2-1 vote by the County election board. The Clerk is on that board & voted in favor of transferring authority to her office, saying her office could handle the responsibilities. When the election is administered by the registration office, the county clerk, voter registration office, county election board and the local Republican and Democratic Party chairs are involved in the process. The rationale seems to be that putting it all in the hands of the Clerk would streamline things.
According to Senderhauf’s account, training of poll workers took place late or not at all. The proper number of precinct inspectors, judges, and clerks were not present. The ballots were not delivered on time. One precinct was being directed to an improper voting location which did not have the proper ballots for those voters. Absentee ballots were not delivered to the correct locations for counting.
Per the newspaper reports, at about 1:05 a.m. on Wednesday after election day, “there were women sitting on the floor of the rotunda counting absentee and early voting ballots.” Those ballots should have been delivered to the Porter County Administration Center. “The Election Day problems resulted in emergency court hearings and judges’ orders to ensure access to voting and secure the handling of ballots.”
The FBI has been called in by the Porter County Board of Commissioners to investigate. There have been calls for the Clerk, at whom most fingers are pointing, to resign. She apparently lost her bid to become County Auditor.
There are a lot of moving parts in the election process. There are cynical reasons for partisans to blow any hiccup out of proportion, and there is a tendency by well-meaning citizens to be skittish about a process they don’t fully understand and don’t fully trust. (And, to be fair, some of that distrust has been earned — our country has a rich tradition of election fraud). So, I tend to shrug off a lot of the criticism of election day problems. But the failures here sound fairly remarkable and preventable.