INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana House Democrats picked up at least one seat in this week's elections even as they waited Thursday for additional results that could break the chamber's long-running Republican supermajority.
Republicans have held supermajorities of more than two-thirds in both the state House and the Senate since the 2012 election, allowing them to pass bills even if all Democrats boycotted votes. Democrats needed to pick up eight seats in the Senate to break its GOP supermajority, but got only one.
The party needed to gain four House seats on Tuesday to break that chamber's Republican supermajority. They picked up one, the Lafayette-area House District 26, and were leading in two other close races — northwestern Indiana's House Districts 15 and 19, both of which have GOP incumbents.
Meanwhile, the outcome of the fourth race — House District 4 — and the District 19 race remained unclear Thursday because Porter County still had not released any election results.
Porter County's Election Day problems prompted county commissioners on Wednesday to request an FBI investigation into alleged violations of state election law they said were reported "by poll workers, voters and the public." The commissioners did not specify what those violations involved.
Election officials in the county seat of Valparaiso were continuing their hand count Thursday of between 15,000 and 17,000 absentee ballots cast by mail or during early voting but which weren't delivered to polling places Tuesday, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported .
The delayed election returns were caused by several problems, including heavy voter turnout, the need for 12 county polling sites to stay open late Tuesday after failing to open on time, and the delivery problems with the absentee ballots.
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said Thursday that Porter County officials made "lot of mistakes" on Tuesday.
"It is unacceptable we don't have any election results two days after the election, and they're still counting," Zody said at a news conference in Indianapolis.
With final election results still pending, House Democrats voted Wednesday to replace their leader, the moderate Rep. Terry Goodin of Austin, with the more liberal Rep. Phil GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne.
Goodin has often sided with Republicans on anti-abortion and gun rights legislation, while GiaQuinta has not.
GiaQuinta said in a statement that he feels House Democrats "can do more to ensure that all Hoosiers are given a voice in their state government."
"We have a growing number of diverse voices in the House Democratic Caucus, and I intend to use their skills to provide a vision of how government can work for the people of Indiana," he said.