Chesterton Tribune



Porter County election officials take oaths

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Porter County elections are under new leadership following the July 1 effective date of HEA 1215, a new law meant to improve Porter County’s election process.

The law was a response to Porter County’s election debacle on November 6, 2018 when 13 polling places opened up to two hours late, poll worker and voter complaints abounded, and results were delayed until November 9.

The law changes the configuration of the Porter County Election Board from three members--the County Clerk and one member appointed by each of the local Democrat and Republican party chairsÑto five members. Now, each party chair gets two appointments. The law also combines election board duties with voter registration and authorizes the new Board to hire a director and assistant director to run elections.

At an Election Board meeting yesterday, Porter County Clerk Jessica Bailey swore in the members of the new Board of Elections and Registration, and the new Board subsequently hired a director and assistant director of elections at her recommendation.

Michael Simpson, republican party chair, opted to reappoint David Bengs and added Ethan Lowe, who was the attorney for the Election Board until fall of last year. Democrat chair Jeff Chidester opted to reappoint David Welter, who he appointed in March following J.J. Stankiewicz’s resignation, and appointed himself to fill the other seat.

Bailey swore in all four members. The new Board elected officers, choosing to keep Welter in his position as president and electing Lowe Vice-president.

Next, the Board heard Bailey’s recommendations for the new director and assistant director. Bailey said she posted job listings for each position about three weeks ago and required applicants to submit a cover letter and references.

“We put a lot of time and thought into this even before the law was passed, about what kind of person should run the elections in Porter County,” Bailey said. “These people will be in charge of one of the most sacred processes and need to understand the importance of that,” she continued.

Bailey recommended Sundae Schoon for director and Becky Rauch for assistant director. Schoon was the Republican director of Voter Registration until the new law went into effect yesterday, eliminating that job. Rauch is moving up from being a Democrat deputy in the Clerk’s office. Both have more than a decade of experience with elections in Porter County. Bailey said she’s confident they will work together to ensure a better future for Porter County’s elections.

The Board unanimously approved Rauch to serve as assistant director. Chidester was the lone no vote when the Board approved Schoon as director.

First order of business--Schoon and Rauch will each create a job description for and hire a deputy. Bailey reported the new elections division will be located in the former Voters Registration office on the first floor of the County Administration building.

Important Dates

The Board rescheduled its regular July meeting from July 18 to Friday, July 19 at 3 p.m.

Bailey noted July 3 is the last day for party chairs to file certificates of selection to fill ballot vacancies, and July 15 is the last day for a candidate to voluntarily withdraw his or her name from the municipal ballot.



Posted 7/2/2019




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