CROWN POINT | Lake County election officials will declare last week's election official later this week after they clear up a few problem ballots.
Michelle Fajman, county elections director, said the five-member elections board meets Friday morning to decide whether to count any of more than 30 provisional ballots cast Tuesday when poll workers challenged voters over questions about their identity, residence or whether they were registered to vote.
The uncounted votes are unlikely to change the outcome in any of Tuesday's contested races. Only two in Hanover Township and Lowell had winning margins or 30 votes or less, but the chances of all the questionable provisional ballots being cast in those communities appears small.
Provisional ballot investigations have become a more significant issue in vote tallies since Indiana began requiring voters to show identification at the polls in 2005.
If voters aren't carrying state-issued identification cards, poll workers let them cast provisional ballots. Elections officials will count any provisional ballot resulting from an identification challenge this spring if the voter presents a valid card here by Friday.
Provisional ballots also are generated by voting machine failures, those who have moved out of their precincts or problems over mail-in absentee ballots.
Rosemary Petroff, of Merrillville, a longtime voter and former poll worker herself, said Monday she didn't cast a provisional ballot Tuesday, but she was challenged at the polling place last week because of an absentee issue.
Petroff said she requested an absentee ballot, her first ever, this spring, but she didn't cast it before the April 28 deadline because she hadn't yet made up her mind. "I got fliers from two candidates that didn't tell me anything, and I would thought I would do more research," she said.
Petroff went to her polling place Tuesday afternoon, but the poll workers confronted her because she was listed in their records as already having voted.
"It happened to another woman at the next table, too. Like me, she had not sent her ballot in. We asked, who did we vote for?"
Fajman said state law forbids anyone who receives an absentee ballot from voting in person on Election Day unless they first forfeit their blank absentee ballot at the election board headquarters here.
She said a warning instruction is mailed with each paper ballot. Petroff said Monday she did find the instruction later, won't cast a vote this week, but does intend to vote in person this fall.