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Published: 10/12/2008

U.S. judge to decide Indiana county early voting sites

ASSOCIATED PRESS

HAMMOND, Ind. A federal judge said he will decide Monday whether to open early voting centers in Lake County s largest cities sites Democrats have requested but Republicans want to block.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen said he will decide whether Democratic efforts to set up voting sites in Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago are legal.

The judge heard testimony Friday from lawyers from Republicans and Democrats, as well as the Indiana chapter of the NAACP and Service Employees International Union.

Thousands of Lake County residents already have voted early in person at the Lake County Government Complex in Crown Point. But the Democratic Party wants to open additional early voting sites in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago.

State law requires each county to open at least one location for people to vote early in person between Oct. 6 and Nov. 3. The law permits more early voting locations if a county s bipartisan elections board unanimously approves them.

Lake County s elections board voted 3-2 on the additional sites last month, with Democratic Party members in support of them and Republicans against.

GOP County Chairman John Curley filed suit to stop them. Lawyers for Republicans said they fear so many early voting sites will make vote fraud more likely. They say federal law doesn t make ease of voting early a constitutional right.



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