The Porter County
Election Board discussed new equipment and early voting at its meeting
The board approved
the purchase of Election Systems & Software (ESS) voting equipment, pending
approval by the County Council and Commissioners. Board President David
Bengs reported that he sought outside financing for the purchase after ESS
offered an interest rate in excess of 5 percent. He contacted First Source
Bank and Horizon Bank, and ultimately Horizon bank offered the lowest rate:
2.4 percent for seven years. After a down payment is made, the first
installment won’t be due until early 2019. The county will have the right to
make prepayments if it so chooses.
Bengs said the new
machines have touch screens and have extra options available for voters with
disabilities. Filling out a paper ballot may not seem difficult to most, for
example, but it presents extra challenges to those who are blind, he noted.
The new machines
will still print paper ballots, however, so a manual recount would be
possible. The ballots will be printed only as needed to save money in wasted
ballots. As Democratic Director of the Election Office Kathryn Kozuszek
observed, “Just in surplus ballots in 2016, $26,000 was wasted.”
Among the equipment
on the wish list is a high-speed ballot counter that counts 3,000 ballots
per minute. The board says the machine would streamline the process of
counting absentee votes.
More and more
people are voting early in Porter County with each election, the board
found, so it will add two new early voting locations for the primary.
The three current
locations: the County Administration Center, Room 102A, 155 Indiana Ave.,
Valparaiso; the Porter County Government North County Complex, Rotunda area,
3560 Willowcreek Road, Portage; and Chesterton Town Hall, meeting room, 726
The two new
locations will be: the Union Township Volunteer Fire Station 1; and the
Hebron Community Center.