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St. Joseph County Commissioners authorize third-party review of absentee ballot procedures

Tom Arthur
Wikimedia Commons

The St. Joseph County Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday to set up a third-party review of county absentee ballot processing procedures after concerns were raised about election integrity.

In a statement, the commissioners say they passed the resolution to ensure transparency and trust in the voting process.

They say concerns include violations of the legal statutes covering the storing of absentee ballots and the duties of the election board, county clerk and staff in processing those ballots, which are counted before election day.

There’s also the hiring of Beverly Shelton as an absentee ballot worker — she was convicted of forging ballot petition signatures for Indiana’s 2008 Democratic primary.

And the commissioners say there is security camera footage of County Clerk Rita Glenn entering the ballot storage room alone, exiting about 20 seconds later and appearing to throw something away.

Under state statutes, the room is supposed to have two locks — one Republican and one Democrat — so both parties know when it is accessed.

But Glenn told the election board in May that there are multiple copies of those keys. According to the South Bend Tribune, Glenn said staffers wanted to enter the room the day before the primary to continue processing mail-in ballots, but that the Republican key holder wasn’t responding to her calls.

So, she said she enlisted a Republican staff member and used the spare key to enter. In addition, a building engineer has copies of both keys as he needs to access an air conditioning unit that’s also in the room.

Glenn is under investigation by the Indiana State Police — in July, attorney Jim Korpal told the commissioners in a letter that it’s related to policies and procedures surrounding the 2022 primary.

The commissioners say the independent review is not intended to address possible criminal actions, but instead ensure that the county’s ballot processing procedures are in compliance with Indiana law.

Contact Jakob at or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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Jakob Lazzaro came to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.