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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Porter County is blowing up its election board after what county officials acknowledge was a “debacle” last year.

A series of Election Day blunders from understaffed polling places to unsorted absentee ballots delayed any results from Porter County for three full days. The delay left the continuation of Republicans’ House supermajority in limbo as candidates waited for results in two key races.

Newly elected Porter County Clerk Jessica Bailey and other officeholders from both parties worked together on a bill to replace the old three-member election board. The bill would shift oversight authority from the clerk to a new five-member board. County council vice president Jeff Larson says giving each party an additional board member should reduce the likelihood of purely partisan votes, and expand the network of contacts to recruit poll volunteers.

The county would also join most others in counting absentee ballots at a single location instead of the precincts. Part of the delay last year stemmed from the clerk not sorting absentee votes by precinct, leaving the county scrambling to deliver the right ballots to the right location. County commissioner Laura Blaney says when officials gave up and tried to count them at a central location, they had to reset the tally machine for each ballot because different precincts had different offices on the ballot.

The bill also extends anti-nepotism rules for other government positions to the election board, banning party chairs from appointing relatives to the board.

The House approved the bill unanimously in January, and a Senate committee followed suit on Monday. A final vote could come as early as Thursday.

(Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)