Standard procedure: Ballots impounded by Indiana State Police for House District 62 recount

By around 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, two state police sergeants had appeared at Monroe County’s Election Central at Madison and 7th streets—to secure the ballots and voting equipment that were used for the Nov. 8 general election.

Indiana state police first sergeant Brad Stille. (Nov. 29, 2022)

It’s the standard process that is used under state election law, when a recount of ballots is requested.

The recount in question is for the District 62 state house race, which was requested the day before, on Monday, by the Monroe County Democratic Party (MCDP).

The race was won by Republican Dave Hall, who had a certified tally of 12,990 votes, which was 40 more than Democrat Penny Githens.

The impoundment order, from recount director Philip Sicuso acting on behalf of the state’s recount commission, was served by first sergeants Dana Miller and Brad Stille with the Indiana State Police.

The key part of of the order reads:

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Indiana State Police immediately impound and secure the following election materials, currently in the possession of the Brown County Election Board, the Jackson County Election Board, and the Monroe County Election Board for
all precincts within Indiana State House District 62, which is located entirely within Brown County, Jackson County, and Monroe County:
(1) All ballots and voting systems …
(2) All tally sheets and canvass sheets …
(3) All poll lists and electronic pollbooks …
(4) All election materials, records, or equipment …

On Tuesday, impoundment activity was also to take place in Brown and Jackson counties as well as in Monroe County. It’s Brown, Jackson, and Monroe Counties that are included, at least in part, by state house District 62.  During the recount process, the counters will travel between counties, but the ballots will not.

In Monroe County, to impound and secure the list of items, the state police officers posted “Keep Out” notices, entry log sheets, and taped the doors shut at three locations: the ballot room at Election Central; the high-speed scanner room at Election Central; and the room at the Showers building where Election Day scanners and poll books are stored.

The state police officers also photographed the interior contents of each room before sealing it shut, then photographed the sealed condition of each room from the outside. They also photographed the keys to each room, which they kept.

It’s not clear how the impoundment of the ballots and voting equipment for the District 62 state house race recount will impact another pending recount, which has been requested for the Benton Township board race. The Benton Township board race recount is confined to just Monroe County—a process that is handled through the Monroe County circuit court.

The MCDP request is for a manual recount, which means that the recount will not be done just by feeding all the ballots from each precinct through an optical scanning machine as they were on Election Day. Instead, the ballots will be tallied by hand.

The request for a manual recount applies just to Monroe and Brown counties, because those two counties use paper ballots.

Photos: State police impound ballots from Nov 8, 2022 election (Nov. 29, 2022)

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