3rd District recount finds suspicious ballots

2012-06-25T20:30:00Z 2012-06-26T00:18:04Z 3rd District recount finds suspicious ballotsBy Bill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | Officials conducting the 3rd District Lake County Commissioner recount already have found apparent voting irregularities in the first day of the new tally.

James Wieser, an attorney for the county elections board, said North Township Board member Richard J. Novak is expected to contest a number of votes that apparently were cast after regular voting hours ended during the May 8 Democratic primary.

He said the list of challenged ballots include eight cast in Dyer, two in East Chicago and four cast in Hammond's 1st City Council District, for a total of 14 possibly questionable votes. Wieser said the recount still must proceed through Hammond's five other City Council districts as well as precincts in Highland, Munster, St. John and Whiting.

The recount began early Monday when technicians took the locks off of the first batch of voting machines. Novak and County Councilman Michael Repay were present in the voting machine garage as the three-man, court-appointed recount commission began its work to go over more than 9,800 votes cast in the May 8 Democratic primary race.

Repay was declared the official winner by 74 votes. Novak is challenging that outcome.

Special Judge Jeryl F. Leach has appointed Jeff Oliver, an elections board mechanic, Democrat Dennis Adams,and Republican Matt Saliga to oversee the recount. Saliga is a last-minute replacement for Michael Mellon, a former Munster Town Council member. He became unavailable for the work.

They will be present for the opening of 374 machines used to collect votes on both Election Day as well as the month before when early voting was permitted. They also will have to recount more than 1,100 paper ballots. It expected to take at least three days to finish.

Lawyers for the candidates and election board spoke briefly with the commission to be on the lookout for undercounts, overcounts and other possible errors.

Justin Murphy, an attorney for Novak, said the attorneys have agreed to delay talking about any contested ballots until the end of the recount. Instead, contested ballots will be taken up individually in a courtroom setting.

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