SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Members of the St. Joseph County Democrat Party have become vocal opponents against a proposal to restructure the county’s Voter Registration Office. The only problem is it was their idea to begin with.
Currently, the St. Joseph County Voter Registration Office is lead by two “Board Members” who are appointed by the majority parties. Essentially you have one Democrat manager and one Republican manager. The restructuring would do away with the Board Members and instead put the office under the control of the County Clerk’s Office. Currently, only three counties in the state do not have their voter registration offices under clerk control.
Democrats pushed for the change in 2016 when they had a Democrat running the Clerk’s Office. In fact, former Democrat County Clerk Rita Glenn wrote a letter in support of the merger less than a year ago, with bipartisan support. Now that a Republican has won the seat, the Democrats are vocalizing rabid opposition.
“Today, a joint press conference was held in which County Clerk Terri Rethlake detailed her proposal to merge the County Board of Voter Registration with the Office of the St. Joseph County Clerk.” The former St. Joseph County Democrat Party Chair, Jason Critchlow, wrote in a press release in 2016. “This proposal will save tax payer (sic) money, increase transparency, (sic) and completely remove politics from our local Board of Voter Registration. The county Democratic (sic) party is in support of this proposal.”
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Such a proposal to merge the two offices was presented at the St. Joseph County Commissioners’ meeting earlier this week. Among the main opponents were multiple members of the League of Women Voters, a supposed “non-partisan” election watchdog group which has a board of only Democrats.
“The decision to move Voter Registration is too Rushed.” Citizen Pam Clayes said, ignoring the fact that the merger had been in discussions for 7 years and had bipartisan support just a matter of months ago. “This is not a dictatorship!”
Nearly a dozen Democrats spoke against the resolution. Only one spoke in favor.
Among the opponents who did not speak at the meeting is the current Democrat Board Member of the Voter Registration Office, Amanda Konrath, who was just found guilty of breaking election laws. She will lose her job in the restructuring.
The issue needs a unanimous vote from the Commissioners to pass. The issue has been tabled until their next meeting.
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