Updated: Wayne County election results coming later because of tabulation process change

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Debbie Grimme, from the First Baptist Church vote center, reviews the voting tape of results in the Wayne County Voter Registration Office on Tuesday night. Photo by Rachel Sheeley

Wayne County election results are expected to be delayed tonight because of a change in the tabulation process.

Wayne County Clerk Debra Berry said the process since vote centers were introduced in Wayne County has been that when the vote centers close for Election Day, the inspector and judge have brought the equipment to the Voter Registration Office in the courthouse.

Once there, they would run the tapes — in other words, print the results — while simultaneously electronically tabulating the results for posting to the county website for the public and the media.

However, Wayne County Democratic Party chairman Beth Harrick made a request last week that the tapes be run at each vote center, citing Indiana code 3-11-14-30, according to attorney Amy Noe Dudas, speaking during Whitewater Government Television’s Election Night coverage.

The code says, “Subject to IC 3-12-2-5, as soon as the polls are closed, the inspector, in the presence of the judges and poll clerks, immediately shall secure each electronic voting system against voting and obtain at least one (1) paper printout of the total votes cast for each candidate and on each public question in that precinct.”

Once the Democratic Party followed up on its request in the afternoon on Election Day, the Wayne County Voter Registration Office contacted the state election board attorney for clarification, Dudas said.

The state election board said that the tapes needed to be printed at the polling sites.

Berry said it could take as much as two hours to run the tapes at each site, before the information can be transported to the courthouse for final tabulation.

Berry said she didn’t know how much doing in this order would delay providing results to the public.

“We’ve never done it this way,” Berry said. “It’s disappointing not to have the results as early.”

After receiving the order to remain in the polling place to print the tapes, some vote centers reported having difficulty getting the machines to print after changing the tape and some troubleshooting was required.

Earlier in the day, a problem with a plug prong at the Mount Olive Baptist Church polling center in Richmond delayed opening and voting for approximately 26 minutes. About a dozen voters left without casting their ballots. Some said they would go to another vote center or return later in the day.

The Wayne County Election Board had an emergency meeting at 2 p.m. to discuss if the polling place should be allowed to remain open an extra 30 minutes to accommodate anyone who might have missed voting earlier in the day.

The Election Board unanimously agreed to file a petition to leave the vote center open an additional 30 minutes. Wayne County Attorney Ron Cross had to write the petition, citing court cases that reinforced the request.

The petition was filed with Wayne Superior Court 1 at about 4 p.m. and soon after Judge Charles Todd denied the petition, saying it wasn’t necessary to extend the polling place hours by 30 minutes.

Story by Rachel Sheeley; find updates as they become available at hmgccity.com

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