6.6K ballots missed in first vote totals from Monroe County: Added numbers make for tiny margin in District 62 House race

Based on revised numbers from the Monroe County election division, Dave Hall’s (R) margin over Penny Githens (D) in the Indiana District 62 State House race has shrunk from 1,509 as reported on election night, to 37.

District 62 includes portions of Monroe, Brown, and Jackson counties.

On Wednesday morning, Monroe County election staff added the votes from 6,642 additional ballots to Monroe County’s totals.

Monroe County revised unofficial 2022 general election vote totals 

Here’s the county-by-county breakdown for the District 62 House race based on the freshest numbers, which were sent to The B Square around 10 a.m. on Thursday Wednesday morning.

Candidate Monroe Brown Jackson Total Pct
Dave Hall 7,893 4,204 878 12,975 0.5007139
Penny Githens 10,608 2,189 141 12,938 0.4992860

The new numbers were also reported to the Indiana Secretary of State’s office and are now reflected in the SOS election results website.

The missed ballots fell in the category of early in-person votes, which are broken out separately in the reporting from the mailed-in absentee votes and the Election Day votes. The rough total of early in-person voters, which were tracked through the early-voting period, was about 16,000. But it’s evident from the election night unofficial totals that not all the votes in that category are included.

The apparent shortfall of early in-person votes in Monroe County’s election night reporting was noted in The B Square’s roundup of results published around 6 a.m. Thursday Wednesday morning.

Late Thursday Wednesday morning, The B Square spoke with Monroe County deputy clerk Tressia Martin and election supervisor Karen Wheeler about the cause for the reporting glitch. Briefly, Martin had missed making the data transfer for one of the digital storage drives with scanned voting information from early voting ballots.

Based on an initial B Square review of the revised results, just one outcome was affected by the additional votes. The added votes changed the outcome for the Clear Creek Township board, which is a vote-for-any-three type  ballot choice.

According to the election night unofficial vote totals, Frank Calabrese (D) missed out on election to the Clear Creek Township board, coming fourth, with 721 votes compared to 737 for Randy Thacker (R). But after the revised unofficial vote totals were released Calabrese had 820 votes compared to Thacker’s 800.

The procedures for recounts are covered in state election law [IC 3-12-11].  Based on the state law, it looks like the 37-vote differential between Githens and Hall in the District 62 House race meets the 1-percent threshold, under which the candidate would not have to bear the cost of a recount.

By the end of the day Wednesday, The B Square was not able to reach Dave Hall.

Githens serves as a Monroe County commissioner. And when The B Square broke the news to Githens after Wednesday morning’s meeting of the county commissioners, she reacted with shock. She will weigh her options, she said, but she’d just only just heard the news.

When reached by The B Square, Monroe County Democratic Party chair David Henry called the situation “fluid” but did not yet know what, if any, approach the county or state party might take to the situation. Henry pointed out that provisional ballots still have to be adjudicated by the election board.

At least theoretically, enough provisional ballots—if allowed to count by the election board—could change the outcome of the race. That would have an impact on which candidate might need to initiate a recount.

GOP county vice chair William Ellis told The B Square that he, too, was not sure what the county party or state party’s approach would be to the situation. Things would start to become clearer in the next few days, he said.

As far as the missed batch of around 6,600 ballots goes, deputy clerk Tressia Martin walked The B Square through the glitch.

Martin told The B Square she woke up in the middle of the night trying to remember if she had added a specific batch of early in-person votes to the totals.

The batch was contained on a digital storage device similar to a USB memory stick, which the election division staff call “V drives.” The “V” is short for “Verity” which is part of the brand name for Hart InterCivic’s voting system. Hart InterCivic is the company that manufactures the voting machines used by Monroe County.

When paper ballots are fed into a ballot scanner, the results are recorded on the scanner’s V drive. The V drive is eventually removed from the scanner and connected to a computer for the data transfer.

The early in-person voting numbers were divided into two batches, corresponding to two V drives and two phases of ballot scanning. The first phase is from the time that in-person early voting starts, up until seven days before Election Day. The second phase is from seven days prior to Election Day until the final day of early in-person voting, which is the day before Election Day.

This year, for the first time, the Indiana Secretary of State authorized the scanning of early voting ballots at the seven-day mark before Election Day, Martin told The B Square.

The early start on scanning of early voting ballots is a help for election staff to start the process of identifying any voters who might have died after they cast a vote, but before Election Day. Under Indiana’s so-called “dead voter law,” such a ballot cannot be counted, so it has to be flagged for removal.

In any event, Martin said, it makes for an additional batch of votes stored on a V drive that is supposed to have its data transferred to the computer that stores all the results. It’s that batch of early in-person votes, cast in the last seven days before Election Day, that Martin said she had not transferred.

First thing Thursday Wednesday morning, Martin and election supervisor Karen Wheeler—which made for a required partisan-balanced team to unlock the ballot room and transfer data—checked on the V drive Martin had worried about through the night.

Martin said they found the V Drive in the ballot room on Wednesday morning, but not in the box where it would have been, if its data had been transferred. That led Martin to transfer the data, and generate the new, revised reports.

When The B Square talked with Monroe County GOP vice chair William Ellis, he said that it’s not clear to him why the three-member, partisan-balanced election board was not called for a meeting to handle the V drive for which the data transfer had been missed.

Ellis added that the pattern of votes in the added batch of early votes did seem consistent with the pattern of the early votes that were already reported on election night. That pattern is for early votes to skew more towards Democrats than Republicans.

21 thoughts on “6.6K ballots missed in first vote totals from Monroe County: Added numbers make for tiny margin in District 62 House race

  1. Wow. It really seemed that the percent difference between githens and hall in Monroe County was too slim

    1. And she did after they tabulated the missing votes, but also keep in mind that D62 excludes most of the city which is more heavily Democratic than other parts of the county.

  2. “This year, for the first time, the Indiana Secretary of State authorized the scanning of early voting ballots at the seven-day mark before Election Day…”

    Seems like there should have been a change in the reconciliation process to catch this. Either the process wasn’t modified or the additional step wasn’t performed? At the precinct level there is a a lot of paperwork provided by the state that has to be performed. I’m guessing that is true for early voting and county totals as well.

    This issue, along with the problems opening election central late, really put the election board in a bad light.

    1. The H-T has an article with some more detail about the late posting of early voting results. There was apparently a process that had not yet been performed that would have caught the discrepancy.

      I think people need to bear two things in mind: 1) vote counting in Indiana isn’t complete until two weeks after election day and 2) election day is a very long day for poll workers.

      I worked a polling station and had to get up at 4am in order to be at the polling station at 5am in order for the station to open at 6am. Polling goes until 6pm. Then the paper ballots have to be accounted for, which means a manual count of paper ballots must equal the number of ballots issued to voters. Manually counting cast ballots can be tedious and time consuming if errors are made, and in my experience errors have always been made. The polling equipment needs to disassembled and readied for transport as well. I was lucky and was on my way home at 7pm. At Election Operations there is obviously more to do in order to come up with county totals, in addition to the usual election day tasks associated with the eight or nine precincts that vote there. So it was a fifteen hour day for me, but even longer for those at Election Operations (and local news reporters).

      I voted on the first day of early voting, so my ballot wasn’t included in vote totals until Wednesday. My paper ballot was put in an absentee envelope on the day that I filled it in. Apparently, the difference between this election and last election was that last election my ballot would have been scanned on the final day of early in-person voting day and this election it was scanned a week before election day. Results from the scanners are stored on digital devices called V-drives, hence the additional V-drives (one per scanner) due to the additional scanning event. I don’t know if the requirement to manually count ballots pertains in this context, but even if it doesn’t, having thousands fewer ballots to scan on the afternoon before the election should be a good thing, if you remember to include the results from the additional V-drives promptly. I bet they remember next election.

      1. Such a burden you bared for your decision. Thank you for being willing and pointing out participation factors and congratulatory performance(s)…

        Yes, it’s hard work… takes a community of hardworking individuals with opposing views to get along and function. Do it right and people might TRUST you.

  3. Pretty obvious an investigation into the election process in Monroe County, Indiana needs to go back to the previous and current clerk of circuit court/election board.

      1. Jacob. I have no idea who Linda is. Nicole Browne is the former, current, future County/ Circuit Court Clerk

      2. I always knew your thought process was incredible. Keep spreading misinformation. You have been around and involved with local politics to play this ignorant… then again, not surprised.

    1. 55/45 wasn’t ‘other early votes’ it was all vote types combined before the extra ‘early votes’ were added. The early in-person vote typically favors Democrats, Election Day votes favor Republicans and mail-in votes are in between. The added votes fit that historical pattern and the pattern you’ll find in other races this cycle all over the country…but sure, totally “suspect” to some who do not like their impact on this particular race. The Democrat who lost in District 46 also did much better in the additional early vote ballots, so why didn’t they just add enough to catch him up to his Republican opponent too? They are clever, but not that clever? And the Republican election administrator is in on it too? Better bring in shoe polish hair dye Rudy for a press conference at our local Four Seasons…Landscaping 😉

    2. You imply that the “found” ballots are fraudulent. Care to substantiate that suspicion with even a shred of evidence?

      1. Not sure why quality control and process is an issue for some. You’d think there wouldn’t be an argument for double checking, asking questions, understanding etc…. The elections are a pillar of our society.

  4. Good article.

    “Briefly, Martin had missed making the data transfer for one of the digital storage drives with scanned voting information from early voting ballots.”

    Briefly, what is the argument for not firing Martin? This seems pretty serious. It was obvious votes were missing. What were the election officers doing, anyway? At 9pm Tuesday, someone was telling me there was a problem with Clear Creek, and he seemed to have known for quite some time. In fact, if these are pre-election day votes, why wasn’t the problem seen well before Election Day?

  5. This kind of sloppiness does call into question how hard it would be to fake the vote in Monroe County. I hope the Republicans look carefully at whether these are genuine new votes. Could the election officials also have simply “forgotten” to count some V-drive from a Republican area of the County? Maybe not, but I’d like to know whether there is any safeguard to prevent fraud.

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