Board of Commissioners votes to consolidate Board of Voter Registration

NOW: Board of Commissioners votes to consolidate Board of Voter Registration

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners voted to consolidate the Board of Voter Registration. Those duties are now under the county clerk.

There will be less positions, still split across party lines, meaning less taxpayer dollars.

St. Joseph County was one of only three in the state that has a separate board of voter registration that is not under the county clerk. But after Tuesday, that is all changing.

"There's always a concern when anything changes with voter registration, or with the election board or state election laws," Elizabeth Bennion, director of voter services and education for the League of Women Voters of the South Bend area.

A resolution passed Tuesday essentially abolished the Board of Voter Registration.

"Thank you to the board members for finally pushing this through. This has been a long time coming," said Donna Hurley, a Democrat deputy for the Board of Voter Registration.

The board of commissioners argued this would save over $200,000 of taxpayer dollars.

"The plan is to eliminate four positions," said County Commissioner Carl Baxmeyer.

With four positions gone, four remain. Commissioners promise the remaining positions will remain split between party lines.

"Political affiliation is determined by how you voted in the last two elections," Baxmeyer said. "So, it will be up to the clerk to ensure that there are two Republicans and two Democrats."

But many in the community are skeptical.

"Some people are concerned that it could be partisan even though it is, on paper, nonpartisan," Bennion said.

"If you think that we're not aware that this is a political thing and not a savings thing, please be aware that that's just not the case," said resident Mike McManus.

The resolution only needed a unanimous vote to pass, which it has, but the board, at the community's request, still took plenty of public input.

Still, many asked for the voting to wait.

"I was hoping this was going to be postponed so that you could do a little bit further research," said resident Pam Claeys.

"I think one of the things that some of the public concern shows is the high level of distrust between the political parties here in St. Joseph County."

At Tuesday's meeting, there were also representatives of the St. Joseph County Libertarian Party, who said they have yet again been excluded from representation in such an institution.

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