The Porter County
Election Board is reconsidering its decision to hold early voting in its
three established locations, including Chesterton Town Hall, after a concern
was raised about having County Clerk candidates in a polling place.
Chairman and Republican member David Bengs on Friday said County
Commissioner President John Evans has suggested moving early voting stations
in the County Administration Building to another room as a fix to the issue
of having Democratic Clerk candidate Kathy Kozuszek present in the Voters
Registration office where voting has traditionally taken place.
Kozuszek, who was
not present at the election board meeting, is also the Democratic Director
of the Voters Registration Office and the vice-chair of the Porter County
The concern, Bengs
said, is the appearance of electioneering with a candidate in the presence
of voters. In addition, Indiana’s election law states that a political party
chairman or vice-chairman may not be present in a polling place when they
are a candidate for office.
Clerk Karen Martin has an annex of her office where early voting takes place
in the Portage North County Complex which could also raise the same concerns
since she is running for reelection and would be in that office at certain
times during the early voting period.
Bengs said Evans
proposed moving the early voting stations to the nearby health department
At one point in the
discussion, Martin, who is one of the three Election Board members, asked
her peers if it would be suitable to add an early voting location in the
south part of the county since the northern section already has two
The board on Feb.
18 unanimously agreed to begin early voting in Porter County on Tuesday,
April 8, at the Voters Registration Office, the Portage North County
Complex, and the Chesterton Town Hall under a motion approved by the board
last month, just as it did for the 2012 elections.
“We should be
mindful of south county,” she said.
Standing in for the
board’s Democratic representative J.J. Stankiewicz who was absent Friday,
Valparaiso attorney Katrina Spence questioned the legality of holding early
voting in the Chesterton and south county locations saying she believes the
law limits where the election board can hold its satellite voting locations.
She said that the
law states that early voting be at “a” satellite office established by the
circuit court clerk. Chesterton Town Hall is not part of the County Clerks’
Martin asked if
that’s that case, then why has Stankiewicz supported having early voting in
The board asked its
attorney Ethan Lowe to review the law and give them his legal opinion later
this week when the board meets on Friday, March 14. Stankiewicz is planning
to be present then.
A resolution to
establish satellite early voting locations would need a unanimous approval
by the board, according to Indiana law.
Lowe said it
typically takes a large amount of time to determine if a location is
suitable for early voting because of space requirements and thorough
inspections. It may be too late to find a spot in the south part of the
county for this year’s elections, he said.
elections will be held Tuesday, May 6.