Republicans, Democrats Agree Dearborn Co. Vote Count Is Accurate; Both Want Answers On Dead Ballot Scanners

Two public meetings about issues with the county's brand new ballot scanning machines will take place next week.

File photo.

(Dearborn County, Ind.) - Dearborn County will hope to get to the bottom of the county’s ballot scanning machine problems during two upcoming meetings.

This past Election Day, most of the county’s 45 brand new ballot machines were not operating due. It was determined that dead batteries in the machines rendered them useless much of the day Tuesday.

Dearborn County Democratic Party chair Tricia Gaustad called Thursday for a public meeting “in an effort to work collaboratively to reassure community members of the results.”

“Of concern to the Democratic Party is the number of ballot machines that failed across the county. These machines are an older technology and typically have fail rate of about 5 percent. However, in Dearborn County the fail rate was greater than 75 percent. This caused confusion and concerns about whether votes would be accurately tabulated,” she said.

Dearborn County Commissioner and GOP chair Jim Thatcher says the matter is set to be discussed at two meetings next week. County commissioners have also asked Clerk of Courts Gayle Pennington and the ballot scanning machine vendor, Election Systems and Software, about the problems at their next meeting on Tuesday, May 15 at 5:00 p.m. at the Dearborn County Government Center.

The Dearborn County Board of Elections is required to have a meeting within 10 days of an election. A date for that meeting has not been set, but could be announced soon.

“They are open to the public,” Thatcher said. “There wouldn’t need to be an additional meeting which is what the Democrats are calling for and they are more than welcome to be there and ask questions.”

Both party chairs state that they believe the vote count from Tuesday’s election in Dearborn County is accurate. Having spoken with the election board, poll workers, judges and based on on-site observations; Dearborn County Democrats feel confident that the results to be certified are an accurate record of votes cast, Gaustad said.

“I agree with my Democratic friends that I am pretty confident that the results to be certified are an accurate record of the votes cast. I agree with that statement 100 percent,” Thatcher said.

Thatcher said he has told Pennington that lessons need to be learned about what happened on Tuesday to make sure it does not happen again in the fall general election.

Dearborn County Democrats are recommending the county procure additional back-up batteries for the machines, improve training for poll workers, and pay more to poll workers, who Gaustad thanked for working together through a tough situation.

“They showed the spirit of cooperation, perseverance and good humor that makes Dearborn County a great place to live,” she said.

Thatcher said it was unfortunate to see poll workers unfairly treated in statements made on social media.  

“They did the job that they were supposed to do,” he said, “and when some of the machines didn’t work as they were supposed to, they followed procedure and secured ballots and made sure they remained as such.”

Thatcher was also critical of York Township Democratic precinct chair Amanda Vinup-Noell’s email to county and state officials claiming that ballots were improperly stacked outside the scanning machines when they did not work. Her email included claims from various Facebook posts by individuals who voted Tuesday that their ballots were not stored securely.

“She based all that on rumor, which she stated in that email. She also has screenshots from Facebook, which we all know is the source for all accurate information,” Thatcher said facetiously.

Thatcher said the Dearborn County Republican Party did not make an effort to contact the state as the ballot scanning machine problem became apparent Tuesday. He believes that was the clerk’s job.

“I didn’t feel that the party should be involved unless there were issues that could not be resolved. To my knowledge, even though there was disruption, at the end of the day all the machines were up, all the votes that were cast that day were run through the machines and counted, and that night the clerk’s office took the time and the diligence to run through everything to make sure that the results were accurate for the election, and I think that the Democrats agree with us on that,” he concluded.

RELATED STORIES:

Ballot Scanner Mishap Looms Over Dearborn County Elections

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