Indiana Republican Party files lawsuit against St. Joseph County Election Board
The Indiana Republican Party has filed a lawsuit against the Democratic members of the St. Joseph County Election Board, the latest development in a fight over how Democratic County Clerk Rita Glenn stored and processed absentee ballots in the May 2022 primary.
The lawsuit against Glenn and election board member Charles Leone was filed on Monday by the state and county Republican party and Thomas Dixon, the Republican member of the election board.
In a press release, the party said the suit aims to block a resolution passed by the election board Friday over the objections of Dixon that delegates board powers covering the processing and storage of absentee ballots to Glenn for the 2022 general election.
The party said that would strip Dixon of the power to review signatures on absentee ballots and have sole access to the Republican key to the ballot storage room.
Glenn is currently under investigation by the Indiana State Police over allegations that her office violated Indiana law by how it handled absentee ballots in the May 2022 primary, as well as the existence of multiple keys to the ballot storage room.
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. She said staffers wanted to enter the room the day before the primary to continue processing mail-in ballots, but that Ben Horvath — the Republican key holder and former election board member — wasn’t responding to her calls.
So, Glenn said she enlisted a Republican staff member and used a 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 in there.
Security camera footage also shows Glenn entering the room alone the day before the primary, exiting about 20 seconds later and appearing to throw something away.
The all-Republican St. Joseph County Commissioners approved a separate third-party investigation last week, which Democrats say is politically motivated and not legal.
They also say Horvath should be investigated for failing to unlock the door to the ballot storage room the day before the May primary.
But in a Monday statement, Horvath said he routinely unlocked the door with the Republican key in the lead up to the primary but was delayed in doing so that day due to a scheduling conflict.
He said it was an oversight and he should have “promptly” designated his key to a fellow party member, but “neglected to do so.” Horvath said he found a Republican to take his place by mid-morning but learned with alarm around the same time that Glenn had already opened the door with a duplicate Republican key.
He said nobody in the local Republican party knew of the duplicate key, and that when he returned to the building to lock the door that evening as requested, the County-City Building was locked, so he could not get inside to lock the ballot room.
Horvath also said he resigned from the election board because Glenn and the board refused to implement policies recommended by the county attorney to address these issues.
In a Tuesday statement, the St. Joseph Democratic Party said the whole situation is an “intentional attempt” at manufacturing a conspiracy “to smear the County Clerk’s office and cast doubt into the minds of voters” similar to Donald Trump’s big lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
The suit was filed in Marshall County and asks for an injunction to block the resolution’s effects. You can view it online here.
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