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Vote hunting and counting continues to haunt close races
Thursday, May 10, 2007 12:47 AM CDT

CROWN POINT | Lake County's spring primary now enters that delicate phase in which the results of Tuesday's voting only appear to be final.

The elections board is re-examining dozens of voting machines to see if any votes were missed and taking a first look at any provisional ballots that were cast.

County election officials said questions of uncounted votes might impact Hammond's Democratic primary race for City Council District 4. It's unclear whether any uncounted ballots will sway other close races in Crown Point and elsewhere.

Steve Shamo, of MicroVote General Corp., the manufacturer of the county's electronic voting machines, said the vote tally hit a snag Tuesday night when a power failure caused counting machines to lock up, delaying the process by three hours.

The canvas completed early Wednesday tallied 65,165 votes on both electronic machines or absentee ballots in municipal races in Cedar Lake, Crown Point, Dyer, East Chicago, Gary, Griffith, Hammond, Highland, Hobart, Lake Station, Lowell, Merrillville and New Chicago.

That represents a voter turnout of 30.4 percent, well below the 2003 municipal primary when 81,134 votes were cast.

Shamo said there is a possibility a small number of votes remain uncounted on 34 electronic voting machines that poll workers may have had problems operating.

He said six of the machines were in Hammond polling places, and two in precincts 4-13 and 4-15 could affect Cynthia A. Berdine-Matasovsky's four-vote lead over Philip Golden in the Democratic 4th District City Council race.

He said none of the machines in question were in Crown Point, where two Republican candidates for City Council seats had leads of five votes or less.

The elections board also began the process Wednesday of examining provisional ballots.

State law now requires voters to present photo IDs at the polls but allows those who forget their IDs to cast provisional ballots and bring in their IDs as many as 10 days after the election.

Provisional ballots also may be cast by voters who have disputes with polling place workers regarding voter registration. County elections workers will review their cases to see if the votes should be counted.

County officials said it wasn't clear Wednesday if any were cast in close races.

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