The Porter County Election Board’s decision to purchase electronic poll books without first securing the funding has triggered a response that may result in losing more than $150,000 in taxpayer money. A fractured Porter County Council on Tuesday agreed, after a lengthy and heated discussion, to address the situation by paying off the bill for the books even though most of the equipment likely never will be used. Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large, called it an “egregious government waste” and a failed attempt to force county government to consolidate the number of polling places.
The bipartisan, three-member election board purchased the equipment without first seeking the necessary contract approval from the Porter County Board of Commissioners or funding approval from the council. Concern also was voiced that competitive bids were not first sought.
The move left the County Council with two options Tuesday — either pay for the equipment knowing it is already becoming outdated and more will be needed, or pay a slightly lesser amount and return the books for a modest credit with the company, according to County Attorney Scott McClure.
“Neither one of these lead to a great conclusion,” Whitten said. “It’s a huge loss either way.”