Chroback describes the teamwork it took to count votes from this election

Editor’s note: WNLP asked La Porte County Clerk Kathy Chroback to give some details on her office’s process in counting the votes in this historic election. Here she provides that insight on all that went into ballot counting after a county voter turnout of more than 62 percent on Nov. 3, plus early votes in person and by mail. The entire process took two days.

Processing of the absentee paper ballots (Nov. 4) went quite smoothly for the number that we had, approximately 7,000.  The ballot counters started at 7 a.m. Tuesday. State law does not allow the absentee ballots to be counted until Election Day. 

We had 18 teams, each with a Democrat and a Republican, keeping everyone 6 feet apart. A precinct report was run in the morning showing all absentee ballots that were mailed out by precinct. The report indicates whether the ballot was returned and scanned in as received. Once they confirm that, the ballot counters compare the signature on the application to the signature on the ballot. 

After confirmation, the ballot is opened and the ballot card is removed from the ballot sleeve. The counters, again made up of one Democrat and one Republican, check for initials of each party representative on the ballot card and the ballot secrecy envelope. The seal of the clerk must also be present. The ballot counters also check for the proper coding on the bottom of the ballot that indicates the precinct where the voter lives. If everything is in order, the ballot is separated from the secrecy envelope, checked to make sure it is filled in properly, and the voter is checked off on the report as “ballot received.”  

The teams work on one entire precinct until it is completed. They then fill out the form that indicates how many ballots they reviewed, received and approved.  This form must be signed by each party representative and then the precinct is delivered to Micro Vote in the absentee room to be scanned into the system. The process can be tedious as the workers are checking for accuracy on the ballot and on the ballot envelope.  

Many questions come up throughout the day, such as a difference in signature, missing signature, missing coding, not being received into the SVRS System (the Statewide Voter Registration System), or missing a party initials or seal. The Election Board, made up of a Democrat and a Republican, addresses each ballot individually, making corrections as needed. Those additional ballots, once corrected, are then added to the report by the ballot counter before the precinct is completed.  

When Micro Vote scans the ballot cards into the system, they are comparing the number of received ballots on the report to the number of ballots in hand to the number of ballots recorded on the ballot count sheet by the ballot counters. The number needs to be the same.

The process takes a bit of time but is very accurate. The ballot counters finished on Election Day just prior to 6 p.m. At that time the Election Board members could no longer oversee the process as they must be stationed at the courthouse to receive the machines and tally cards from the poll workers on Election Night. The workers started up again the following day. 

On Tuesday the Election Board and the ballot counters completed all of the county precincts and half of the precincts in Michigan City before stopping for the night. They completed the rest of Michigan City and all of La Porte City the following day (Wednesday). We finished up around 5 p.m. Wednesday and all ballots were delivered to the absentee room to be scanned into the system by Micro Vote. Scanning began about 5 p.m.

I want to thank all of the dedicated workers who worked in the absentee room, many who started as early as June and July receiving and processing applications for mail-in ballots.These folks worked every day. As time went on, more workers were added to the mix as the volume got larger. Applications were processed and ballots were mailed, in most cases, within 2 days. The job is very detail-oriented as they enter and approve applications and prepare all of the ballots to be mailed. 

Each day a team of workers received all ballots that came in that day and matched them up with the voter’s application preparing for the count. They had a huge responsibility and they each take this responsibility very personally. I simply could not have done this massive job without them.

Thank you to the folks who worked the 4 early voting sites, La Porte, Michigan City, Coolspring and Wanatah. That was a grueling job to say the least as they never stopped from morning to night. The lines were long and constant with no room for a breather.   

Also, thank you to all the folks who opened and counted absentee ballots on Tuesday and Wednesday. Many of them were experienced as they have done this before, which made the task go quicker and more thorough.

Last but not least, thank you to the 400-plus poll workers who made Election Day 2020 a success. The entire day went smoothly with very few issues and the workers were real troupers. Lines were long and all of the workers followed the state’s recommendation in preparing the polling sites with the provided personal protective equipment, sanitizing all polling places to protect the voters from COVID, and doing their best to keep everyone masked and 6 feet apart.  

And thank you, La Porte County, for coming out and voting in this very important election!

2 Responses to “Chroback describes the teamwork it took to count votes from this election”

  1. May

    Nov 09. 2020

    Great job Kathy!

    Reply to this comment
  2. JuJu

    Nov 21. 2020

    As always, great job lady.

    Reply to this comment

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