Only minor problems reported locally on Election Day

2012-11-06T18:15:00Z 2012-11-07T14:29:04Z Only minor problems reported locally on Election DayBy Marc Chase and Marisa Kwiatkowski Times Staff Writers

A few problematic poll workers and a handful of disqualified absentee ballots were among the hiccups in Lake County's Election Day, county officials said.

Jim Wieser, Democratic attorney for the Lake County elections board, said judges at several polling locations were chastised by elections officials Tuesday morning after asking voters whether they wanted to vote just for the president or for all races. They are not allowed to do so.

Wieser said deputy elections commissioners told the judges if they continued asking the question, they would be removed.

And throughout the day at the county's Central Count location at the Lake County Government Complex in Crown Point, four members of the elections board sifted through questionable absentee ballots brought to their attention by dozens of hired Election Day ballot counters.

As of about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, less than a dozen of the county's 9,000-plus absentee ballots had been rejected by the two Republicans and two Democrats who reviewed them — mostly because voter signatures on ballot applications didn't match the signatures on the ballots.

"Look at this one," Republican elections board member Kim Krull said, holding up and comparing the signatures on one voter's ballot and absentee application. "They're not even close."

One signature appeared as if written by the head of a penmanship class while the other meandered all over the area allotted for it. The ballot was stamped in red with the word, "REJECTED."

Another problematic absentee ballot spotted by elections workers had one voter casting a ballot for all three Indiana gubernatorial candidates.

Election officials said the votes cast by that voter for other offices would be counted, but the gubernatorial votes would be disqualified.

Among other minor problems Tuesday were some voters' phone calls to the elections board mistakenly being routed to the sheriff's department because of a phone glitch, Wieser said.

Meanwhile at the polls, some voters expressed confusion when asked to show photo identification. Others claimed to be registered to vote but records showed they had not done so, Wieser said.

Confusion also arose over voters' ability to bring newspapers or voter guides with them into the polling place.

Alexander Harvey, 19, said he felt intimidated by a poll worker who told him to put away the newspaper clipping he'd brought to remind him of the candidates for whom he planned to vote.

"I kind of felt powerless," the Munster resident said. "I didn't feel there was anything I could do about it."

Wieser said the poll worker was wrong to make Harvey put away the newspaper while he was voting. He said voters can bring in voter guides, but the paper must be concealed until the voter is in the voting booth.

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