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Recount Commission to release some ballots seized in contested races • Indiana Capital Chronicle

The Indiana Recount Commission is moving forward with two recounts in the state legislative elections despite wide margins of victory.

The panel met for several hours Wednesday and decided to release some ballots seized in Elkhart and Hendricks counties after two Republican candidates for Indiana House Districts 40 and 49 filed recount petitions.

Republican Brian Paasch is running against incumbent Rep. Greg Steuerwald in the primary for the Indiana House District 40 seat. According to the Indiana Division of ElectionsSteuerwald received 63.2% of the vote, or 3,519 votes, and Paasch received 36.8%, or 2,050 votes.

Cindi Hajicek ran in House District 49 and received 35% of the vote (2,407 votes), while her opponent, incumbent Representative Joanna King, received 65% (3,805).

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Paasch and Hajicek did not return calls for comment.

After receiving the petitions, the State Board of Accounts (SBA) ordered the Indiana State Police to seize election materials, including ballots and equipment, related to contested races in Hendricks and Elkhart counties, the director said Wednesday. count, Philip Sicuso.

However, both candidates filed recount petitions on May 15, before county election officials finished counting provisional and absentee ballots. County election boards can decide whether to count each provisional ballot until 3 pm on May 17. Election officials in Hendricks and Elkhart counties said at Wednesday’s meeting that the early embargo prevented them from properly certifying the results of contested and undisputed elections.

Local concerns

Elkhart County Clerk Christopher Anderson said the county has about 100 provisional and absentee ballots still to be counted, including votes outside House District 49. Anderson said there are 49 races, including the selection of the Republican nominee for president and state convention delegates, that he cannot certify.

“When I look at the count of those ballots, based on turnout, 85% of those voters will be Republican votes,” Anderson said. “85% of those voters have been disenfranchised.”

Don Hodson, a Hendricks County election board member, said his board had to postpone a meeting to certify the votes because they didn’t know what to do with the confiscated ballots. When an attorney for the commission said the board should still have been able to certify the results, Hodson responded, saying the Hendricks County clerk contacted the Recount Commission for guidance but never received a response.

“This whole process is causing a lot of confusion,” Hodson said.

In the coming days, SBA representatives will manually separate ballots that are not relevant to contested races and deliver them to county election officials.

Recount Commission member Michael Claytor expressed concern that continuing to seize uncounted votes would disenfranchise voters. He proposed that the commission temporarily post all ballots for 48 hours so counties could certify the results.

“I’m going to assume that we’re not going to allow the board of accounts to originally count the provisional ballots, they can just count them again,” he said. “We are going to make people lose their franchise because an early embargo was resolved. Frankly, that offends me.”

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