Boy, Tallian waiting for votes to be counted
MICHIGAN CITY – Long after the celebration was over Tuesday night for most winning candidates, two of La Porte County’s statehouse hopefuls remained in a state of political limbo.
Porter County had released no election results as of Wednesday evening, and officials did not even begin counting until Wednesday morning, more than 15 hours after the first polling places closed.
The delay was holding up final election results in three state legislative races, including Senate District 4 and House District 9.
In the Senate race, incumbent Democrat Karen Tallian handily beat challenger Cole Stultz in La Porte County, taking 7,653 votes to the Republican’s 4,365.
“I’m feeling good,” Tallian said Tuesday night. “I’m just hoping for the same results in Porter County.”
She did not comment further on Wednesday.
In the House race, Michigan City Common Council member Patricia Boy also won easily in La Porte County, picking up 63 percent of the vote over Republican Dan Granquist, 10,512 to 6,169.
La Porte County Democratic Chairman James Kimmel said he has no doubt both will be heading to Indianapolis for the next legislative session.
Calling the situation in Porter County “unresolved” and “unexplained,” he said, “Both Karen and Pat will be just fine.”
In the Senate race,” he said, “Her opponent has been MIA for months. There are rumors he has moved back to southern Indiana, which is a pretty unprofessional move. That means that a few thousand voters in La Pore County were tricked.”
Indiana Democrats also seem confident Tallian will win re-election. On Wednesday, the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus voted to re-elect the Ogden Dunes resident as Minority Caucus Chair.
Boy did not comment on the chaos in Porter County, choosing to focus on the future.
“I’m excited to get started on the things I said I would do,” she said Tuesday night, adding her top priorities will include preserving health care, protecting unions and helping teachers. “I need to call downstate and tell them what I’m interested in so I know which committees I will be a part of,” she said.
The portion of both the House and Senate districts in Porter County include Portage, a heavily Democratic area, Kimmel said, which adds to his certainty of victory.
Of the delay in counting ballots, Porter County Commissioner Laura Blaney said it was caused by several problems, including the need for 12 polling sites to stay open late after they failed to open on time. Absentee and early ballots had also not been sorted in a timely fashion, she said.
The commissioners’ office said in a statement Wednesday afternoon they have asked the FBI to investigate alleged election violations reported “by poll workers, voters and the public.” The statement did not specify what the violations involved, and the FBI did not respond to a request for comment.
The commissioners have ordered the Porter County Sheriff’s Department to guard all election ballots and secure the election office.
A spokeswoman for the voter registration office in Valparaiso said votes cast between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday, as well as absentee ballots and early votes, would be counted Wednesday before any results are released. Provisional ballots and those cast after 6 p.m. Tuesday at the precincts where voting was extended would be counted Nov. 16.
Porter County Commissioner Jim Biggs attributed the county’s woes to a variety of factors, including heavy voter turnout, but said “big changes” were needed to prevent a repeat. “What we have here is a total breakdown in the process,” he said.