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Election board to discuss candidate complaints

VALPARAISO — The ongoing dispute between the two candidates for Porter County clerk continues, this time with a lengthy list of complaints filed with the county election board by Democratic candidate Kathy Kozuszek, who’s also her party’s representative in the voter registration office.

Kozuszek will face incumbent Karen Martin, a Republican, in the Nov. 4 election.

Both are unopposed in next month’s primary.

The election board is expected to take up the issues at a Tuesday meeting. Martin, as county clerk, is a member of the election board.

“This is not a candidate debate. I will address those issues if and when there is a candidate forum,” Kozuszek said, adding that her concerns are about violations of state law.

The concerns come as early voting kicks off Tuesday at the courthouse, the North County Government Complex in Portage and Chesterton Town Hall.

“I have and do take my responsibilities seriously,” Martin said in a prepared response. “At all times I have made difficult decisions based on facts.”

Martin may want to find a proxy for her seat on the election board to avoid a conflict of interest, said Trent Deckard, Democratic co-director of the Indiana Election Division in the Secretary of State’s Office. He received a copy of Kozuszek’s complaint.

“If your office is in question, how would you both sit in judgment and be a questioner?” Deckard asked of Martin. “Many of these (concerns) seem to center around how the (clerk’s) office is handling the election. If the board is making a decision around a complaint (about Martin), I would recommend a proxy in her place.”

Noting that she is the only member of the election board who is not appointed — state law requires the county clerk to be on the county election board ­— Martin said she would research how prior clerks dealt with a similar potential conflict before deciding what to do.

“Anything is possible,” she said.

Kozuszek’s concerns include a decision by Martin to eliminate 125 poll workers from the May 6 primary, which Kozuszek said should have been done by a unanimous decision of the election board under state law.

“Unfortunately, the previous allocation of workers may not have been in compliance either, due to the fact that they would add or delete judges and clerks as they deemed,” Martin said in her response.

Kozuszek also said the recent use of 18 e-poll books and ballot printing equipment violates state law because there won’t be enough of them for all the precincts. Martin has said they will be used in the county’s three early voting centers.

The e-poll books will be acquired evenutally for all locations, Martin said, but “prior to purchase, we would like to review with the staff and workers the advantages and disadvantages of the poll books.”

Kozuszek also has accused Martin of changing the locks in the voter registration office on March 7, locking employees out of the office. Martin said then it was because of concerns by Kozuszek that someone had been going through her desk in the office.

“At no time were the employees of voter registration locked out during business hours. I was at the location prior to the office hours to allow employees in for the work day,” Martin said.



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