Democratic Party leaders were dismayed Saturday over a GOP move to contest Democrat Chris Chyung's 86-vote victory Tuesday over state Rep. Hal Slager in the 15th House District after state police impounded voting records late Friday.
Michelle Fajman, county election director, said Friday night she received a call at 7 p.m. from state police stating they were serving an impound order issued by the Indiana Recount Commission.
Fajman said about five state police troopers were given access for several hours Friday evening at the Lake County Government Center to impound the materials.
Slager confirmed to The Times late Friday night he had requested the impound order through the Indiana Recount Commission.
"We have to get control of the records and evaluate whether it goes to a recount or not," Slager said. Slager would not commit to whether he'd request a recount.
Chris Chyung, a 25-year-old Democrat from Dyer and political newcomer, said he was warned Friday night by the Democratic House Caucus of the commission's order.
Chyung expressed confidence early Saturday in the voting process. "We are not Porter County. We know how to count ballots, so I trust the election division did their job."
Chyung outpolled Slager 12,473 to 12,387, according to final, unofficial totals.
The Indiana secretary of state's office released a copy of the Indiana Recount Commission's impoundment order Saturday.
The document, dated 7:02 p.m. Friday, calls on state police to secure all ballots and voting systems, tally and canvas sheets, poll lists and electronic poll booths used in Tuesday's general election in all of the dozens of precincts in the 15th House District.
The district covers all of Dyer and Schererville, most of St. John and parts of Griffith.
James Wieser, the Lake County Democratic chairman, questioned why the Republican-controlled Indiana Recount Commission abruptly ordered the impoundment.
"Given their past practices of suppressing voter participation, I believe (Republicans) will use any means legal or otherwise. They were shocked by this election's outcome, and they don't want the voice of the people heard," Wieser said.
John Bushemi, a former state senator, a Democratic precinct committeeman and recount attorney, warned Saturday, "Republicans are attempting to steal this election and turn a young public servant away."
Bushemi said he fears a repeat of the 1994-1995 recount that transformed a 54-vote victory for Democratic state Sen. Frank Mrvan into a three-vote loss to Republican Sandra Dempsey.
Bushemi, who was involved in that recount 24 years ago, said he expects any contest of Chyung's victory will center on absentee paper ballots cast in the race. Final unofficial results indicate Chyung received 242 more votes from absentee ballots than Slager.
The secretary of state's office said the Indiana Recount Commission is tentatively scheduled to meet again Nov. 29. The three members of the Indiana Recount Commission are Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a Republican; Matt Huckleby, a Republican and Michael Clayton, a Democrat.
Times reporter Dan Riordan contributed to this story.
Check back at nwi.com for updates.