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Council approves funds for voter registration deputy

Council approves funds for voter registration deputy Council approves funds for voter registration deputy

There are only so many hours a person can work and qualify as a part-time employee. At the Harrison County Clerk’s office, the voter registration deputy has so much to do that the position needs to be a full-time job.

Debbie Satterfield started working in the election division in 2016 and, even then, the office was always behind.

“You would not believe how many people move and how many times they move,” Satterfield told the Harrison County Council during its regular meeting Monday night.

Satterfield said more people register and register unnecessarily when they were already properly registered. These are part of the reasons Satterfield said there are reports and tasks she would like to do that should improve things, but there isn’t time.

“I have eight hours a day work plus, and I can’t get ahead of it,” Satterfield said. “I have tried for 3-1/2 years to do that, and I just can’t do it, and it really gets to me because I’m not doing everything the county needs and everything the voters need.”

With an increase in mail-in ballots in June, it became more evident the clerk’s office needed a worker dedicated to the position full time.

Harrison County Clerk Sherry Brown said she was going to request the county turn the part-time position into a full-time position for 2021 but first needed Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson’s approval. Instead, Lawson’s office sent a letter recommending the change happen immediately to help with the upcoming general election.

“Fifty-three counties have fewer voters that have a full-time voter registration deputy,” Brown said.

According to Brown, Lawson said in the letter Harrison County is the largest populated county in the state without someone in the position full time. The next county on the list has approximately 10,000 fewer people.

“I have spoken to the council for several years about needing to make this position full time,” Brown said. “I have requested that in my budget. I have even gradually increased the number of hours. It used to be just 24 hours. We got it up to 28, which I was told is all we can do and not offer insurance.”

“I have stretched it as far as I can without getting to full time, but it is just not manageable,” Brown said.

On Monday night, the council unanimously approved the move, which will cost less than $18,000 to finish the year.

“The integrity of elections is one of the most important things we can do,” said councilor Holli Castetter.

Brown said with changes the state has made to secure elections, this full-time position is needed even in years without an election.

“In off-election years, the state sends out postcards that all of you should have gotten as registered voters, and then the follow-up work on that falls on the voter registration deputy,” she said.

Brown said many postcards are returned and then the deputy is tasked when finding out what happened to the voter and if they need to be removed from the county’s voter registry.

Voters can check their voting status at indianavoters.in.gov.

In other county business, the council elected to have a special joint meeting with the Harrison County Board of Commissioners at 3:30 p.m. Friday to discuss the downtown courthouse project and the upcoming 2021 budget. The meeting will take place at the government center in Corydon.

Last week, the commissioners said they were looking at going with the second-lowest bidder for the courthouse renovations and would remove some of the work to reduce the cost. However, the council had concerns if that was legal or not. Legal counsel was not able to attend Monday’s council’s meeting to address the issue.

Councilman Gary Byrne said he would not support the work because the construction management fee is too high.

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