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Court rejects Democrats’ voting machine complaint

The court ruled Friday evening in favor of Harrison County Circuit Court Clerk Sally Whitis, a Republican, after a complaint was filed by the Harrison County Democratic Party alleging voting machines were left unsecured in a storage room at the Government Center in south Corydon.
After some time of deliberation, the two sides, Whitis and the election board represented by Chris Byrd, and the Democratic Party represented by Nicholas A. Siler, could not come to an agreement.
The parties discussed re-testing a few of the machines, which would have had to be done quickly with the machines set to go out to their respective precincts Monday morning.
Neither party had a problem with re-testing, but Whitis and Maryland Austin, the GOP representative to the election board, said it would have to be paid for by the plaintiffs, the Democratic Party.
Alva (Jim) Kincaid, the Democrat Party chairman, refused to do so.
‘We weren’t the ones that broke the lock off,’ Kincaid said, referring to an allegation that the GOP representatives broke off a Democratic lock on the storage room door where the machines are kept.
Whitis and chief deputy Sherry Brown denied any such claim. Brown said, in fact, there never was a Democrat or Republican lock on the door until recently when she put the Republican lock on it as a precaution because of all of the voter fraud allegations throughout the state and country.
The emergency hearing, which lasted about 90 minutes, was held in Superior Court with Judge Joseph (Joe) Claypool, a Republican, as special judge because the suit was filed with the circuit court. However, since Circuit Court Judge John T. Evans is on the ballot (unopposed), a special judge was needed.
Following testimony from Gordon Ingle, who sits on the election board as the Democrat representative and the one who initiated the complaint with an affidavit, Whitis and Brown, Claypool ruled no testing needed to be done and the election preparation could continue as normal.
He said nothing in the Indiana Code cited by Ingle stated the need for any locks, Democrat or Republican or both, on the door until after the election.
Ingle said the need for the locks is implied and it would circumvent the entire section of the code if not.
Claypool said since each machine is individually locked and the memory card is secured with a seal, there’s no evidence of any tampering of the machines.
According to Kincaid, the lawsuit was filed as a last resort after Republican members of the Harrison County Election Board refused to schedule an emergency meeting of the board on Thursday to address the matter.
‘Our party did not want to take this action,’ Kincaid said. ‘Our concern is for the integrity of the election itself, and the failure of the clerk’s office to follow standard operating procedures has cast significant doubt on its veracity.
‘With accusations swirling from some candidates that this election may be rigged and other reports of potential election fraud, our party feels it essential to review the record behind this incident and ensure that the machines are properly programmed,” he said. “It is our job to ensure that the public has full faith in the electoral process, and the Republican refusal to even meet to discuss this issue is inexcusable.’
Kincaid cited the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump, who has repeatedly warned of a rigged election.
‘It is incredible that the Harrison County Clerk would create a situation where the voting machines were exposed to the risk of partisan tampering,’ Kincaid said. ‘The voters of Harrison County have the right to know their votes are counted and counted accurately.’
Following Friday’s ruling, Harrison County Republican Party chair Scott Fluhr said, even in these very partisan times, all can agree voters have the right to an accurate election.
‘We must all be able to know that the outcome of Tuesday’s election is accurate,’ he said. ‘All necessary steps should be and have been taken by the election board and the clerk’s office to maintain the integrity of the election and the voting process. We are glad that the court has dismissed the frivolous Democratic complaint after hearing all evidence and all sides. It is unfortunate that the Democratic election board member is so inexperienced in election administration and lacking in knowledge of election law. When the voters of Harrison County decisively reject the Hillary-Obama Democratic Party on Tuesday, there will be no doubt as to what happened.’