Ballot error led to mistake involving precinct and delegate races

By David Slone

WARSAW — Human error led to some voters in the May primary election receiving the wrong ballot.

Ann Torpy, Kosciusko County clerk for the Superior and Circuit Courts, explained that when a pollworker at Community Life Center, 825 N. Harrison St., Warsaw, activated the voting machine, the pollworker gave 104 voters the same ballot, not giving them the ballot for where they live.

“She gave them the wrong ballot. They all got counted, all voted, but they got the wrong ballot. So that affected the state convention delegate race and a precinct committeeman race,” Torpy said.

In the state convention delegate race, she said that affected 78 voters. For the precinct committeeman race, it affected 24 of those 78.

For the Republican precinct committeeman race, there were two candidates affected.

Election results on May 7 indicated Beverly J. Brown received 39 votes for Ward 1 Precinct 1 and Michael Foster received 48 votes, only a difference of nine votes.

For the Republican state convention delegate race, Torpy said it would have affected “all four state convention delegate districts plus the at-large,” of which district 3 is a “closely contested race.”

In district 3, on election night, results indicated Monica Boyer received 1,189 votes; Sharon K. Wilson, 1,130; Lynn S. Howie, 1,063; Anne Bonewitz, 939; David Bonewitz, 818; Shawn Brown, 807; Ashley McGinnis, 801; Mikie Crate, 724; and Alan Tio, 625. Voters could choose five of the candidates. The difference between David Bonewitz and Shawn Brown is 11 votes and only 17 votes between Bonewitz and McGinnis.

“Because of how close it was, 78 voters should have received a ballot with that race on there but did not,” Torpy said.

As for a solution, Torpy said the candidates that were involved in the precinct committeeman race could file a petition with the Superior or Circuit Court by noon on Tuesday, May 21 to contest the election. The judge then will make a determination on what steps need to be taken, which could include ordering a special election just for that race.

A special election is not automatic. It has to be driven by a candidate or the Republican Party chairman.

“The petition has to meet certain criteria, so the candidates would need to speak with an attorney to help them with that petition,” she said.

As of an interview Friday afternoon, Torpy had not heard yet of any candidates who were going to file a petition.

Austin Rovenstine, Kosciusko County Central Republican Party Committee secretary, said if one of the candidates for state convention delegate wanted to challenge the election results, there wouldn’t be enough time before the June 15 convention for a special election.

Instead, they would have to file a complaint with the Indiana convention delegates committee and that complaint would challenge the credentials of who was elected as delegates in Kosciusko County. A decision would then be left up to the committee.

That complaint would have to be filed at least 12 days before the June 15 convention.

Rovenstine said the party rules can be found on the Indiana GOP website. The website is at

Kosciusko County Republican Central Committee Chairman Mike Ragan said he talked to Bev Brown, Shawn Brown and Ashley McGinnis. He stated that while McGinnis didn’t think she was going to file a complaint, Beverly Brown was going to think about it over the weekend and Shawn Brown may file a complaint.

“All of those involved know about it. They were notified about it after the Election Board meeting today (Friday),” Ragan said, adding Bev Brown just wanted to know the truth and so did he.

Ragan said people have already registered for the convention and paid fees. With only a month before the convention, there was no time for a special election.

He said the way it was discovered that there had been a problem with everyone voting on the wrong ballot at the church was that a person who went to the vote center in the afternoon to vote didn’t see the candidate on the ballot he wanted to vote for. With vote centers, a person in Kosciusko County can vote at any of the vote centers within the county.

Ragan said he went to all the polling sites around 4 p.m. and asked every poll worker the same questions. He was at Community Life Center one hour after it was learned there had been a problem, but no one told him about it and he’s frustrated about that. The candidates didn’t even know about it until Friday – 10 days after the election.

He emphasized that there was no cover-up and he doesn’t want to give the appearance of any kind of cover-up. The pollworker who made the error was a Democrat, he said. Ragan said transparency is important to him and in this matter.

Torpy emphasized that the issue was human error and not because of a machine.

“The pollworker thought that the ballot for their vote center was this particular ballot, so she pushed that button every time for a voter instead of for the precinct the voter is actually assigned to, so it was more pollworker error, not machine or anything,” she said.

“Plus, we are having that audit in June so that should ease the mind of voters if they’re concerned with this. But this is not machine error. It was actually human error that caused this issue.”

Every vote was counted, it was just some voters received the wrong ballot and the races they missed out on were precinct committeeman and state convention delegates, she stated. “They voted for state convention delegates, just not for the ones in their district.”