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Lake County elections board meeting

Lake County Elections Director Michelle Fajman, right, talks to Lake County Clerk Michael Brown, from left, incoming clerk Lorenzo Arredondo, a representative for the Democratic Party, Democratic House District 15 candidate Chris Chyung, an Indiana State Police officer and Patrick Murphy, an attorney for Republican state Rep. Hal Slager, as elections staff prepare to rescan 24 ballots from Dyer during an elections board meeting.

CROWN POINT — The margin by which Democrat Chris Chyung won the 15th District House seat narrowed slightly Friday after a review of absentee and provisional ballots, but state Rep. Hal Slager and the Republican Party still have time to request a recount.

The Lake County Board of Elections and Voter Registration certified the results of the 2018 election on a contingency basis, after rescanning 24 ballots from Dyer Precinct 8 and reviewing about 30 provisional ballots cast in House District 15 under the watchful eye of Indiana State Police. 

The Indiana Recount Commission ordered state police Friday to impound all voting materials used in the Nov. 6 election in the dozens of precincts that make up the 15th House District. The district covers all of Dyer and Schererville, most of St. John and parts of Griffith. 

Slager asked the commission to issue the impound order after final unofficial results showed Chyung outpolled him by 86 votes, or 12,473 to 12,387.

Official results released Friday show Chyung won the race 12,468 to 12,386, or by 82 votes.

Slager has until noon Tuesday to request a recount, and the Republican Party has until Nov. 26 to make the same request, said LeAnn Angerman, the ranking Republican on the elections staff.

Slager's team planned to continue working through the weekend to research any election irregularities, said Justin Murphy, one of the attorneys representing Slager.

“We’re looking at other issues,” Murphy said. “Issues have to be resolved just to have a baseline count.”

Murphy submitted a number of public records requests and was waiting to receive written elections reports, so his team can verify the results, he said.

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Chyung attended the elections board meeting, but could not be immediately reached for comment Friday night after the release of official results.

The Indiana Recount Commission this week directed state police to release materials so county elections staff could rescan the 24 ballots from Dyer Precinct 8, determine whether 30 provisional ballots in the House District 15 should be counted and synchronize 13 iPads for the purpose of an audit to ensure the number of voters who signed in matched the number who cast ballots.

Official results show elections officials counted 11 provisional ballots in the House District 15 race, including five for Chyung and six for Slager.

In total, the board voted to count 49 of 197 provisional ballots cast countywide and reject 126 for various reasons, including no registration and improper registration.

Ballots cast by 22 voters who failed to present an ID on Election Day were to be counted if the voters produced a valid ID, but only one of those voters met that requirement by Friday's deadline, Angerman said.

The 24 ballots in Dyer subject to the Indiana Recount Commission order needed to be rescanned because of an error caused by inadvertent duplicate scanning on election night, Elections Director Michelle Fajman said.

The error happened late in the day Nov. 6, and elections staff were aware of it. Elections staff would have rescanned the ballots regardless of the impound order, Fajman said.

The 13 iPads were synced, and Fajman did not expect any issues, she said. Synchronizing iPads also is something elections staff normally would do before certifying election results, she said.

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