(La Porte County, IN) - LaPorte County Clerk Heather Stevens is speaking out against a recent move by county commissioners.
At their regular meeting on September 7, Commissioners Sheila Matias and Rich Mrozinski were the deciding votes in a decision to assume control of a mobile voter registration bus. Their resolution was to establish a process for use of the mobile voter unit for promoting voter registration and applications for absentee voting and early voting, if needed.
Clerk Stevens says she was completely opposed to the decision. “We were told probably about three weeks ago that they were going to come after it. I was completely against that. I think it’s been in good hands with the County Election Board,” she said. “Nelson Pichardo was in favor of the commissioners taking possession of this. President Chuck Watterson and I were not. But at the end of the day, the commissioners just did what they wanted.”
Matias and Mrozinski based their decision on the fact that the mobile unit has been underutilized. Stevens acknowledged that the bus needs to be used more, but she is afraid of it not being used properly under the direction of the commissioners.
“First of all, they are not election administrators,” Stevens said. “My biggest fear is that we’re going to have all this paperwork that comes in, and it’s not filled out properly. Therefore, we cannot process it, and then we’re going to have a disaster. We’re going to have people who think that they’re registered to vote that aren’t registered to vote. What I don’t want is a bunch of paperwork coming back that’s no good. This really needed to be left in the hands of those who know what they’re doing.”
County Commissioner Joe Haney also opposed the move, calling it a “blatantly political act.” But the other commissioners felt that transferring authority over the vehicle was in the best interest of voters. “We have an elected Democrat, we have an elected Republican,” Mrozinski said at Wednesday’s meeting, “and we have the one thing that we need to make sure this is done right. It’s called integrity, and I don’t think anyone wants to challenge that.”