Commission launches investigation into method of processing absentee ballots

NOW: Commission launches investigation into method of processing absentee ballots

SOUTH BEND, Ind., --- The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to hire an outside attorney to investigate the video and other allegations involving the County Clerk's Office and the actions of Clerk Rita Glenn. This comes on top of a separate investigation by the Indiana State Police into the Clerk’s office.

“The county will engage legal services to investigate how the clerk’s office and the absentee ballots are being handled,” said Carl Baxmeyer, the President of St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners.

This security video was obtained and released by former republican election board member Ben Horvath through an access to public records act request.

It shows St. Joseph County Clerk Rita Glenn allegedly entering a secure ballot storage room alone the day before primary elections back in May.

After the democrat leaves the room it appears she throws something away in a blue trash or recycling bin, a move that raised concerns for some.

“I mean everybody Democrat, Republican, a-political. People want to know if this is a legitimate thing and that’s something that we’re also constitutionally guaranteed. That’s a part of being an American is to make sure we have all these things, that we have a safe read fair election,” said Tyler Gillean, the Chairman the St Joseph County Republican Party.

According to Board of Commissioner meeting minutes Glenn said she entered the room where absentee ballots were stored using another republican staff member’s key after she wasn’t able to get ahold of Horvath to use his.

The room needs to be unlocked by two keys from both parties.

Indiana State Election Laws also say members of both parties must be present when someone enters a ballot storage room.

“There always should a bi-partisan effort present when handling ballots and that’s really to look at the whole gamut,” said Baxmeyer.

The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners also confirms it got information that absentee ballots were removed by the Clerk’s Office the day before the primary for processing after board of elections members left the County City Building.

The board told ABC57 their resolution for an independent review is to ensure laws are being followed, who has keys, and access to secure spaces.

“It’s really more about the process then any criminal activity.”

The move is also to potentially change the process in the future to maintain voting integrity especially ahead of Midterm elections in November.

“I want this to be a bi-partisan issue. We want to get to the bottom of this to make sure this is an election that we are following the laws,” said Gillean.

 “It’s to restore people's confidence in the integrity of how the ballots are handled and the whole process that’s really what this is about,” added Baxmeyer.

Rita Glenn and her attorney both declined to comment Tuesday.

It’s still unclear how long the independent review process could take.

More information about the Commissioners resolution can be found here.

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