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Elections board meeting March

Lake County Board of Elections Director Michelle Fajman, far left, addresses board members during a public meeting on March 19, 2019.

CROWN POINT — The Lake County Board of Elections has issued subpoenas to two poll workers as part of its investigation into voting irregularities at polling places in Griffith during last November’s general election.

At a public meeting Tuesday, elections board counsel Michael Tolbert confirmed administrative subpoenas were sent to poll inspectors from the Griffith 2 and Griffith 12 precincts. The board wants them to answer questions about why the number of votes cast exceeded the number of ballots issued at their polling places.

County election officials first revealed the discrepancy at a public meeting in January. The iPads used to check in voters at the Griffith precincts recorded 23 fewer ballots than the number counted by voting machines at those polling places, according to elections board Assistant Director LeAnn Angerman. The difference was 10 ballots in Griffith 2 and 13 ballots in Griffith 12, she said.

A similar problem occurred in Gary’s 1-16 precinct, but poll workers there have already provided an explanation to election officials, according to board member Dana Dumezich.

“We keep logs, but in these two precincts, there was nothing,” Dumezich told The Times.

While the “overvote” in the Griffith precincts was not enough to change the outcome of any races, it did raise concerns that poll workers were making mistakes that could affect close contests in the future. By issuing the subpoenas, the board hopes to determine if the vote discrepancies were mere oversights or the result of malfeasance by poll workers.

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“There are various legitimate reasons that it could happen,” Angerman told The Times.

As an example, she said the poll workers could have forgotten to log when a ballot was issued to a voter that was not in the iPad system, but whose registration was confirmed by a phone call to election officials in Crown Point. In that case, the voter would have been able to cast a legitimate ballot without being recorded in the iPad system.

Although Tolbert confirmed the subpoenas had been sent, he could not say for certain if they were successfully served to the two poll inspectors. He advised the elections board to send a second notice of subpoena after confirming the recipients’ mailing addresses.

If the Griffith poll inspectors do not respond to administrative subpoenas, the elections board can ask a Lake County Circuit Court judge to issue a judicial subpoena. In that case, the Sheriff’s Department would be authorized to compel the poll workers to appear before the board.

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