New Starke County Election Board Member Selected as Board President, After Stalemate

The Starke County Election Board was a bit slow getting to work Thursday, after members hit a stalemate over who would run the meeting. The first item of business was the board’s reorganization.

Peg Brettin, who had been serving as president, was recently replaced by Marcia Bedrock as the Republican Party’s appointed member. Clerk Bernadette Welter-Manuel’s motion to nominate Bedrock as president was met with silence from the rest of the board.

“Is somebody going to second it?” Welter-Manuel asked. She then requested that Bedrock second it, but Dan Bridegroom, who was serving as proxy for board member Harrison Fields, said she couldn’t second her own nomination. “No, the motion dies for the lack of a second,” he said. “Are there any more motions?”

Bridegroom then made a motion to nominate Fields as chairperson. It also died for a lack of a second. Welter-Manuel was unsure how to proceed.

Bedrock asked if the board could get by without a chairperson. “It seems when you only have three people on a board, it would seem to me that there would be a stalemate, so how can you have an effective board, when no one can agree on anything?” Bedrock asked.

Bridegroom said that a chairperson is required. He then went on to say the person has to have experience participating in the election board, but Deputy Clerk Colleen Hodge did not find any such requirement in Indiana Code. “It just says they shall select one of the appointed members to serve as chairman,” Hodge explained. “It does not say there are any requirements to that. There are no requirements that you had to have served on the board previously.” Indiana Code also specifies that the circuit court clerk serves as the board’s secretary.

Bedrock proceeded to ask how many meetings Fields had actually attended this year. Welter-Manuel believed that he had missed four.

The clerk ended up contacting the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office to try to settle the matter and ran the meeting herself in the meantime. She eventually got a response from Indiana Election Division Co-Director Brad King. “‘There is nothing in state law or Robert’s Rules of Order that require that the nomination be seconded. You simply accept a nomination and take a vote,'” Welter-Manuel read.

She didn’t ask the board members to vote for Bedrock or Fields, but called for a yes-or-no vote on Bedrock’s appointment. Welter-Manuel and Bedrock voted in favor, while Bridegroom opposed.