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Porter County elections

Porter County Election Board members (left to right) Karen Martin, David Bengs and J.J. Stankiewicz run a mandatory test on a sampling of election equipment.

Bob Kasarda, The Times

VALPARAISO — Porter County Clerk Karen Martin said she has already completed the transition of people and equipment needed to take control of local elections.

One of two election workers has been moved the couple of blocks from the county voter registration office to the clerk's office at the downtown courthouse, she said.

Martin and fellow Republican Porter County Election Board member David Bengs voted Thursday to take the elections away from its long-time home in the county voter registration office.

The pair, who make up a Republican majority on the election board, said the move brings the county in line with state law and all but a few of the state's 92 counties.

Voters will not see any differences as a result of the change, Martin said.

Lone opposition was voiced last week by Democratic Election Board member J.J. Stankiewicz, who argued the move was improper because Martin, as a candidate on this year's ballot, is prohibited from administering the election.

Martin, who is running for county auditor against Democratic incumbent Vicki Urbanik, disagreed, saying the law only says her signature cannot be on the back of the ballot, which it is not.

Stankiewicz further argued the move runs contrary to state code calling for efficiency in election administration. The clerk's office is three blocks away from the voter registration office, its staff and equipment, he said.

Martin said her current staff is capable of handling the additional work of elections, along with the two positions in the voter registration office funded by the election board. Those posts currently are filled by a Republican and a Democrat. Martin said she will be interviewing each to determine if they will be retained or replaced.


Porter/LaPorte county reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.