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Porter County election reforms appear likely to become law
urgent
2019 Indiana General Assembly

Porter County election reforms appear likely to become law

INDIANAPOLIS — The House-approved plan for reforming Porter County election administration, in the wake of last year's polling place and ballot counting chaos, appears set to sail through the Indiana Senate.

On Monday, the Senate Elections Committee voted 7-0 to advance House Bill 1217 to the full chamber, after making a minor clarification to language that previously was approved 94-0 by the House.

"What the voters endured in our last election just can't happen again, and this bill really goes a long way toward fixing a lot of problems," said Democratic Porter County Commissioner Laura Blaney.

Along with Blaney, Republican County Councilman Jeff Larson and Democratic County Clerk Jessica Bailey all told the committee the proposal enjoys strong bipartisan support in Porter County.

The measure also is co-sponsored by all the Republican and Democratic lawmakers representing Porter County in both the House and Senate.

Under the plan, a new board of elections and registration would administer voting in Porter County, instead of bundling the task with the other duties of the circuit court clerk.

Day-to-day operations would be overseen by a clerk-appointed director and assistant director, who must belong to different political parties, and the directors would hire election board employees on an equal-party basis.

In addition, the directors and all the employees must win bipartisan approval from a five-person election board composed of two Democrats and two Republicans, chosen by each party's county chairman; as well as the county clerk.

The measure also prohibits nepotism in direct appointments to election board positions statewide, and requires Porter County absentee ballots be counted in a central location, instead of being delivered to polling places on Election Day.

If the legislation is approved by the full Senate, possibly as soon as Thursday, the House is likely to consent to the committee amendment, which would send the measure to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to be signed into law.

The changes would take effect July 1.

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