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WATCH: GOP launches devastating commercial about investigation into Clerk’s handling of absentee ballots

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The St. Joseph County GOP launched a devastating commercial about a potential criminal investigation into the St. Joseph County Clerk’s handling of absentee ballots. The ad, which aired during the Notre Dame V. BYU football game on Saturday, comes after several REAL News Michiana investigations uncovered potential illegal activity regarding the Democrat Clerk and her office and subsequent inquiries by the Indiana State Police.

“No one wanted to believe it was true. No one thought it could happen. But it appears, it did.” A voice says during the ad before showing security footage of Democrat Clerk, Rita Glenn, going into the secured absentee ballot area alone, after hours, removing documents and throwing them away the night before the 2022 primary election. “Is the St. Joe County Clerk, a Democrat, secretly removing absentee ballots from secured storage in order to alter the outcome of an election?”

STATE POLICE INVESTIGATION

The discovery of this video comes only months after the Indiana State Police opened an investigation into Glenn for potential voting law crimes.  Glenn and her office are currently under investigation by the Indiana State Police following an RNM story about the Democrat having and disseminating multiple keys to the secured absentee ballot area, without the knowledge of the St. Joseph County Republican Party. The county has since hired an attorney to represent Glenn during the investigation.

In early May, Republican officials discovered the existence of multiple keys to access what is supposed to be a secure location to store absentee ballots before they’re counted. The room in the County-City Building, in Downtown South Bend, is secured with two different locks, one for the Republicans the other for the Democrats. In theory, a Republican and Democrat keyholder must be present to gain access to the ballots. While Republican leadership was under the impression that only one key existed for each lock, it turns out there could be up to 7 keys total, with multiple Republican keys being held by Democrats.

DISCOVERY OF KEYS

According to sources who wished not to be named, the revelations came through simple confusion about when designated keyholders were supposed to be at the County-City Building to open the room. The Republican key holder was not immediately available to open the room in early May, so Democrat St. Joseph County Circuit Court Clerk, Rita Glenn, grabbed what she called a “Master Key” and had what she claimed to be a “Republican” in her office open the door for her. That “Republican” is Helen Jojo. A quick search of her voting records show she has never voted in a Republican primary and is not considered to be a Republican by Indiana statute. In fact, the only primary she has voted in was in 2008 as a Democrat, according to voting records.

The St. Joseph County GOP Chair at the time, Zach Potts (who passed away in August), brought up concerns about this “master key” at an Election Board meeting in May. That’s when it was discovered even more keys existed.

WHO HAS THE KEYS

At the meeting, Rita Glenn claimed three people, aside from her, have Republican keys.

  • Ben Horvath: Republican Election Board Chair — Voted in only Republican Primaries. Horvath is selected as the official key holder.
  • Penny Stratton: Election Clerk and Employee of the St. Joseph County Circuit Court — Voted in only Democrat Primaries.
  • Brian Davidson: St. Joseph County Buildings Engineer — Voted in Republican Primary in 2020, Democrat Primaries in 2019 and 2018.

Glenn also disclosed that there are three Democrat keys. Those keyholders are listed below.

  • Brian Davidson: St. Joseph County Buildings Engineer — Voted in Republican Primary in 2020, Democrat Primaries in 2019 and 2018.
  • Penny Stratton: Election Clerk and Employee of the St. Joseph County Circuit Court — Voted in only Democrat Primaries.
  • Rita Glenn: Democrat St. Joseph County Circuit Court Clerk

IS IT ILLEGAL?

The intent of the law mandating the two lock system is to maintain election integrity. The law mandates there be Democrat lock with a key given to a Democrat keyholder and a separate lock with a key given to a Republican keyholder. While the intent of the law appears to stipulate that there only be one key per lock, Indiana Statute does not specifically state additional keys can or cannot exist.

You can read the entire statute below:

IC 3-11-10-10 Absentee ballots to be kept under two locks in cabinets, boxes, or room; security of keys

     Sec. 10. During the period that absentee ballots are being received, each county election board shall keep the ballots in cabinets, boxes, or a room upon which there are two (2) locks, one (1) for each of the appointed members of the board. Each day the absentee ballots shall be placed in the cabinets, boxes, or room under the direction of the appointed members of the board. If an appointed member cannot be present each day, then that member shall designate someone from the member’s political party to be present with the key to the lock at the time the ballots are secured and at the time the lock is opened the next day. The key of each appointed member of the board shall be kept secure in the manner determined by that appointed member.

In May, REAL News Michiana reached out to Democrat County Clerk Rita Glenn, St. Joseph County GOP Chair Zach Potts (at the time) and St. Joseph County Democrat Party Chair Diana Hess for statements in May. RNM did not receive statements from any of the officials.

CURRENT CLERK CANDIDATE ALSO TIED TO SCANDAL

Glenn is currently finishing the last year of her term as the St. Joseph County Clerk. However, her subordinate, Lana Cleary, is currently running as a Democrat for the position. Cleary has worked in the office for 20 years and has worked closely with Glenn in running St. Joseph County’s elections, including the absentee voting process. Sources tell RNM Cleary was well aware of the additional keys to the absentee voting area.

Cleary was endorsed by Glenn in the 2022 primary in which she defeated fellow Democrat Ann Dylewski, who is also a current employee of the Clerk’s Office.

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