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GOP lawsuit against election board moved to St. Joseph County

A lawsuit filed by the Indiana and St. Joseph County Republican parties against the Democratic members of the St. Joseph County election board has changed court venues.

It’s the latest development in a fight over allegations that Democratic County Clerk Rita Glenn’s office violated state 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.

The suit was filed in Marshall County last Monday, and focuses on a resolution passed by the election board delegating powers concerning the processing and storage of absentee ballots for the 2022 election to Glenn’s office.

The resolution is based on an Indiana law which allows for the clerk to perform election board duties with the board’s permission. But the GOP argues that it strips authority from Republican board member Thomas Dixon, who’s also a party in the suit, to review signatures on absentee ballots and have sole access to the Republican key to the ballot storage room.

But in a Friday affidavit, Glenn said that’s not the case. Instead, she said all her office does is “organize the voted absentee ballots by precinct” and put them into carrier envelopes so they can be counted on election day.

Glenn said her office has performed those functions for the election board for the past 30 years because the board does not have enough employees to do so. She and Democratic board member Charles Leone also argue that stopping her office from processing the ballots would cause chaos on election day, as early voting in the county began on Oct. 12.

In a response filing, the GOP argues that the resolution gives Glenn’s office the power to handle signature verification and the ballot storage room keys, even though she’s not actually doing so.

Marshall County Judge Curtis Palmer denied the Republican request to block Glenn’s office from processing absentee ballots on Wednesday and approved a change of venue to St. Joseph County on Friday.

It is not clear when the case will be argued, as it has not been assigned a judge as of Tuesday.

Democrats have criticized the lawsuit and the separate investigation approved by the all-Republican county commissioners as a politically motivated attack designed to sow distrust in the voting process.

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.