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Jessica Bailey

Jessica Bailey

A week ago today, the general election collapsed into disarray and disenfranchisement in Porter County.

Voters and candidates finally learned the identities of the apparent winners Friday, some three days after unofficial results should have been tabulated in the county.

Now all eyes must be on county government leaders responsible for weeding out the factors that led to the fiasco so it doesn't happen again.

A large share of that burden rightly will be placed on the back of new Porter County Clerk-elect Jessica Bailey, a Portage Democrat.

Incumbent Clerk Karen Martin, who presided over the disaster and then apparently hid from public view for some 48 hours after Election Day, thankfully won't return as clerk.

Term limits prevented Martin from seeking that office in 2018, and voters opted not to elect her to the county auditor position she ran for instead.

Martin should heed the calls of Porter County commissioners and others to resign in the wake of the election disaster, even though she has two months left in her term.

Meanwhile, new Clerk Bailey should waste no time spearheading a plan to keep this from happening again.

There is very little breathing room. The May primaries of a municipal election year will be here in six months.

In last week's general election, a dozen polling locations didn't open on time, essentially turning away voters who sought to exercise their right and duty as Americans to vote.

A judge intervened, extending the operating times at those polling precincts. But an untold number of voters may not have been able to return to cast their votes for any number of reasons, including work and family obligations.

Even before the election started, the ballots of some 118 to 122 early voters in Portage also were called into question because election supervisors hadn't provided the bipartisan signatures required by law.

The insult of the tardy polling place openings gave way to injury when early and absentee ballots apparently weren't organized and ready to be counted on time Tuesday night.

Instead, it took election officials three days to sort out the mess and provide election results to the public.

Bailey must know this can never happen again.

Porter County residents should ensure Bailey enters her new office in January with the fires of accountability nipping at her heels.

Meanwhile, all county officials should offer their true assistance — not partisan political rhetoric or vitriol — in fixing the disaster.

Voters are watching. It's time to get to work.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.