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Early voting supervisors replaced after clerk takes issue with longstanding practices

Tom Arthur
Wikimedia Commons

The St. Joseph County Election Board Monday accepted an absentee voting supervisor’s resignation in response to concerns raised by the county clerk.

Pat Schafer, the Democratic supervisor on the 20-member absentee voting board, quit after elected Republican County Clerk Amy Rolfes complained about how Schafer and her Republican counterpart, Jeannine Hickman, were signing ballot envelopes.

At an emergency meeting Friday, Hickman, the Republican, agreed to a demotion and transfer to the county clerk’s Mishawaka office.

Rolfes took office this year and is overseeing her first election. She campaigned on election integrity. Last week she tried to fire both supervisors but learned later that absentee voting supervisors, who are seasonal employees appointed by the political parties, can only be fired by a unanimous vote of the county’s three-member board.

Rolfes took exception with two things: as a time-saving measure, the supervisors were sometimes signing multiple envelopes at a time that the ballots are placed in. It’s Rolfes’ preference that supervisors only sign the envelopes after ballots are placed in them.

The board Monday voted that from now on, supervisor can’t pre-sign ballot envelopes.

Rolfes also didn’t like how supervisors were momentarily leaving ballots unattended at their desks during 15-minute breaks.

Parrott, a longtime public radio fan, comes to WVPE with about 25 years of journalism experience at newspapers in Indiana and Michigan, including 13 years at The South Bend Tribune. He and Kristi live in Granger and have two children currently attending Indiana University in Bloomington. In his free time he enjoys fixing up their home, following his favorite college and professional sports teams, and watching TV (yes that's an acceptable hobby).