The Allen County Election Board could not agree Wednesday to take over the duties and responsibilities of voter registration, so what happens next falls to the Allen County commissioners.
While two members of the board – Republican County Clerk Lisbeth Borgmann and Republican representative Zachary Klutz – said yes, Democratic member Andrew Boxberger voted no. Per state statute, the vote must be unanimous to become policy.
Already dealing with massive budget cuts and facing a presidential election year in 2012, Boxberger said now is not the time for such a transition.
It would be dangerous to voters and to the integrity of Allen Countys election process as a whole, Boxberger said.
In July, the commissioners acted on a new law that gives them the authority to abolish the independent voter board and transfer the responsibilities of voter registration to either the election board or the county clerk.
We dont know what happens now, Klutz said. Its out of our hands.
Klutz said he was disheartened that the three could not agree.
Both Lisa and I felt that there was no reason we could not absorb the tasks and responsibilities of voter registration without in any way compromising the integrity of the registration process, Klutz said.
At the same time, Klutz said, the merger would have saved the county $100,000 and consolidated a government entity.
While most county departments were recently advised to cut 2012 budgets by 8 percent, the election boards budget is to be cut by 17 percent and voter registration by 27 percent, Boxberger said.
This is really difficult, Boxberger said. Right now, we are $300,000 short of having enough funds to run a presidential election.
Boxberger said he is not opposed to restructuring voter registration operations but not under this kind of duress and time constraint.
I am fully committed to coming up with reorganization options and a plan we can all agree on – in 2013, Boxberger said.
The election board is scrambling to figure out how to simply hold an election in 2012, Boxberger wrote in a letter sent to commissioners July 29.
We had current and future plans for implementing early satellite voting, electronic poll books, better training for workers, vote centers and more, Boxberger told commissioners. Now all of this is in serious jeopardy.
Boxberger offered several options to commissioners but said his preferred plan is to postpone any merger and allow voter registration to operate independently through 2012.
The issue will be revisited at the commissioners meeting Aug. 19, according to Allen County Commissioner Terese Brown.