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Voting problems routine

May 10, 2007
By Andy Grimm Post-Tribune staff writer

Tuesday was a long, but fairly uneventful day at the polls for Lake County Election Board attorney David Saks.

Shortly after 5 a.m., poll workers at a Hammond precinct called to report three voting machines left outside the polling place, the Fraternal Order of Eagles Hall on Kennedy Avenue, had been stolen.

County election officials were able to come up with three back-up machines in time to open the polls at 6 a.m., but as yet, Saks said, they have no leads on the missing machines.

"Could they make up a bunch votes with those machines? No. The company (that manufactures the machines) said it would cost six figures to break their codes," Saks said.

"Maybe (the thieves) didn't know what they were getting. They just look like three briefcases. " he said, noting that the three machines will cost the county $15,000 to replace. "Or maybe they were just trying to keep people in that precinct from voting."

Later that morning, a pair of East Chicago police officers charged with vote fraud filed a lawsuit against the election board complaining they would not be allowed to vote in the districts where they allegedly do not live.

Judge Lorenzo Arredondo ruled the pair could cast provisional ballots, but Saks said the men, Ron DeCastro and Randy Morris, would've been able to vote at their polling places.

"They didn't need a court order. They said they wanted to vote without getting criminally prosecuted," Saks said.

Saks also took calls from poll workers at Lake Station, where guy wires from a tent set up by campaign workers outside the polls at City Hall caused a tripping hazard for voters.

"That one they didn't need a legal opinion for. They could just tell the guys, adult to adult, to please move their tent," Saks said.

Saks, Republican board attorney Bruce Lambka and other election board workers manned phone lines to field questions and complaints throughout the day. Saks personally picked up the phone for at least two cases where an intoxicated would-be voter was barred from the polls.

"One of the calls, it was the drunk calling," Saks said. "He said he had to go to class and he left his books at the polls. I told him to have someone go inside and get them for him. You can't vote if you're visibly intoxicated."

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