SOUTH BEND, Ind. — In what is being advertised as a cost-cutting measure, St. Joseph County commissioners are considering a measure to abolish the county’s election board.
The board primarily oversees and regulates voter registration in St. Joseph County. Under the resolution being considered, commissioners are looking to move the roles and duties of the election board under the umbrella of the county clerk’s office.
This would mean eliminating the board that is made up of an equal amount of Republicans and Democrats to ensure bipartisanship and fairness in running the county’s elections. The provision states that when the clerk hires workers to oversee the county’s elections, they be made of an equal number of workers from both parties.
However, if at some point during the process, the number of workers reaches an odd number the clerk can fill an empty position with whomever they see fit.
Supporters of the resolution on the county commission said it will allow the county to eliminate some positions that will save the county money in the long run.
The feeling among community members is one of being unsure and most attending Tuesday’s commission meeting spoke and asked for more “transparency” on the resolution.
“What opportunities has the public been given for public input about this important change,” asked Elizabeth Bennion with the South Bend League of Women Voters. “You certainly can make this change tonight, but should you do it now?”
“To be honest, I have no position on this resolution at this time,” said South Bend Common Councilor Rachel Tomas Morgan (D). “But, there are just so many outstanding questions that I feel the public is owed.”
With that commissioners voted to table the resolution to allow the public time to ask those questions.
“There was some good questions that should be answered, so that’s what we do, at least that’s what I do, as government officials,” said Commissioner Derek Dieter. “So, that’s why we delayed (the vote) a week to answer as many questions as we can.”
Commissioners are planning to vote next Tuesday on the resolution.
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