Republicans, Democrats speak out on lawsuit against SJC Election Board members

Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 6:57 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A judge in Marshall County is being asked to determine how St. Joseph County’s next election should be handled.

A lawsuit was brought by the state and county branches of the Republican Party, and the lone G.O.P. member of the St. Joseph County Election Board.

The suit seeks an injunction to ensure that the handling of absentee ballots in St. Joseph County is done in a bipartisan fashion, in light of a resolution the board passed last week.

“Specifically, this took away his right to have access and possession of the key to get into the absentee ballot room, as well as stripped him of his right to approve the signatures on absentee ballots,” said Attorney Andrew Jones. “Those things might sound mundane to some people, they might sound confusing to some people, but in Indiana we actually have some wonderful bi-partisan safeguards that ensure that both parties can be confident in the results of an election.”

The resolution passed last week directed that certain duties and responsibilities can be transferred from the election board to the county clerk when it is “more reasonable and efficient to do so.”

“There’s one party responsible for something that should be a bipartisan effort and I think all the voters have a right to be upset and outraged by this,” said St. Joseph County Commissioner Carl Baxmeyer. “So, this suit was filed, to make this, force this to be what it’s supposed to be: a bipartisan effort in handling the absentee ballots.”

While claims of stolen elections are nothing new on the national scene, St. Joseph County Democratic Party Chairperson Diana Hess adds:

“But it’s very disheartening that the St. Joseph County GOP leadership is joining in that chorus, orchestrating an unrelenting coordinated attack in order to manufacture a fake conspiracy in hope of gaining, of scoring political points.”

Hess spoke at a gathering of some two dozen Democratic officeholders and candidates who gathered at party headquarters Tuesday afternoon.

Democrats say they believe this is an attack on County Clerk Rita Glenn.

This comes after the release of a video that appears to show Glenn entering the double-locked absentee ballot storage room and throwing something away.

Last week Republican Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to ensure more trust and transparency in the voting process.

Democrats, however, are fighting back, saying Ben Horvath, a former Republican member of the election board, should take some responsibility too.

“Ben Horvath failed to show up to perform his duties during the primary election...We believe this was his intentional attempt to manufacture controversy...This charade can be described as nothing more than bullying someone who is not even on the ballot, this year, for political gain. We stand with Rita Glenn and we will defend our elections from these attacks...We are here today to remind you that early in-person voting starts tomorrow. Our system is safe and secure. Every process is overseen by both Republican and Democratic poll workers,” Hess said.