CROWN POINT — A political activist is accusing election officials of hurting Donald Trump's chances in the May 3 primary.
Joe Hero, of St. John, asked the Lake County elections board Tuesday to reconsider transferring the polling place for more than 4,300 St. John area registered voters to Lake Central High School this spring.
Hero and Gerald Swets, of St. John, a Republican candidate for county recorder, said the sprawling high school campus at 8400 Wicker Ave. in St. John may be too challenging for disabled voters because of the distance from their designated parking lot.
They said the volume of traffic from more than 3,200 students entering and leaving the largest high school in Northwest Indiana would discourage anyone from going there to cast ballots for president, U.S. senator, and state legislative and county races.
Hero complained, "The outcome of this election is going to affect the presidential nominations, if you look at the heavily Republican precincts that you are shoving down and suppressing here. It is going to cause suppression of the Trump vote. I ask you to go out and look for yourself and make your own decision whether it's compliant (with the Americans with Disabilities Act) today."
Swets said he, too, is concerned the new arrangement will create an undue burden for his supporters.
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The bipartisan five-member elections board was unmoved. They said their staff already had investigated the new site and taken traffic and handicapped parking into account. They said they will monitor the new site for any problems that may arise.
Michelle Fajman, the county elections director and Patrick Gabrione, assistant director, said the county will have between 12 and 15 voting machines at the school site. She said 518 persons cast votes in those six precincts four years ago during in the last presidential election.
They said the county will provide a ramp or other access aids if needed. They said the number and proximity of parking spaces is comparable to other polling places. They said school officials assured them school buses and student vehicles clogging the parking lot and nearby roads clear out in less than 22 minutes.
They said there will be plenty of signs to direct voters to the right location, and poll workers will be trained to assist voters having trouble at the site.
Gabrione said the county is moving the six precincts to the high school from Kolling Elementary School, less than a mile south of the high school, in response to concerns about the safety of Kolling's younger students from voters who might wander away from the polling area and through its halls. He said this is considered to be less of a threat for the older high school students. Voting previously had taken place at Kolling for at least 17 years.
Election officials also are moving Merrillville's Precinct 17 from the Christian Home Health Service, 4200 W. Lincoln Highway, to the First Presbyterian Church of Merrillville, 7898 Taft St., because of a complaint that voters might violate the privacy of the nursing home's residents.