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Former Teacher Amy Rolfes Shows How Normies Can Help Make Their Local Elections More Secure

St. Joseph County Clerk Amy Rolfes recently alerted Indiana state elections officials to potential ballot petition fraud.

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Amy Rolfes may only have a little more than a year’s worth of experience in government under her belt, but the St. Joseph County clerk knew something wasn’t right when a batch of ballot petitions came into her office last month. Upon further review, Rolfes and her team discovered that much was wrong with the dozens of petition pages aimed at securing long-shot Democrat presidential candidate Dean Phillips’ place on the Indiana ballot. 

As I recently reported, St. Joseph County elections officials ultimately determined that just 19 of more than 500 signatures were valid in what appears to be a stunning case of ballot petition fraud. 

“Curiously, there were addresses that simply did not exist. The streets did, but not the house numbers,” the clerk said. “We would look through and compare the signatures but there was nothing like them in the statewide system.” 

“We kept saying, ‘That’s not valid. That’s not valid,’” she added. 

The elections administration team reviewed each page, each signature, comparing names, birth dates, addresses, and penmanship to those in a statewide voter registration system. It was painstaking work, but every election official should pay such attention to detail — and the law.

An Educator’s Life  

Rolfes’ professional life had nothing to do with running elections and a government office. She graduated from the University of Michigan with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. For about a decade, Rolfes ran one of the first child care centers in the Michigan Veterans Affairs hospital system.

The mother of five who says she is “not your typical politician” stepped back from full-time employment when her children were smaller, but continued to work part-time as a substitute teacher for area private and public schools. 

When her children were older, Rolfes was tapped to run a nonprofit literacy center for low-income students who were behind in reading and writing.  

“I loved that job,” she said. “It was a private tutoring, community-based organization with community volunteers matched with students who were struggling. We had great success, and we used testing that we could provide to the community.” 

Rolfes left the literacy center — and her country — for the opportunity to work for an orphanage in South Africa. She served for two years as director of the orphanage’s children’s programs, leaning heavily on her education background. 

‘Focused on Election Security’

Back home, Rolfes found herself being courted for a new adventure. She was asked by the local Republican Party to run for St. Joseph County clerk. She agreed, seeing the elected position as another opportunity to manage a multi-faceted operation that involves many more responsibilities than elections. 

But it was a scandal involving St. Joseph County’s election administration that helped elect Rolfes. 

St. Joseph County Councilwoman Amy Drake, who has previously written for The Federalist, said she and fellow Republican Rolfes campaigned together for their respective offices in 2022 on election integrity issues — particularly former Democrat County Clerk Rita Glenn’s reported violations of absentee ballot room access protocols.   

“Glenn is alleged to have entered a secure ballot room the day before the May 3, [2022] primary election without following the proper access procedure. After going into the room, she was seen on video throwing away what looks like rolls of paper, possibly from that room,” ABC 57 reported.

Rolfes went on to win the election, and she got to work on the absentee ballot room locks at the root of the Glenn controversy. She became the first Republican to win the office, according to the St. Joseph County GOP

“Her message to our county is that she sincerely is focused on election security — at a time when voters really care about this issue because of questions about national election integrity,” Drake said.

Rolfes isn’t just talking the talk. 

Soon after she began her term in January 2023, the clerk learned about the Certification in Election Administration, Technology and Security (CEATS) program at Indiana’s Ball State University. She quickly signed up. 

“It’s like this great think tank,” Rolfes said. “It has really impacted my feeling and understanding with following through with election code to make sure things are done correctly.”

She said her role as clerk may seem disconnected from her long career in education and nonprofit work, but leading people and operations remains the same. It’s about getting the best out of the people around you, and Rolfes says she’s surrounded by exceptional public servants. She gives credit to her staff of more than 50 employees for making sure election integrity remains a focal point of the St. Joseph County clerk’s office. Her leadership team includes Chief Deputy Clerk Trisha Carrico and Kim Riskovitch, the office’s elections clerk, who were instrumental in tracking the allegedly fraudulent ballot petitions. 

Rolfes admittedly has ruffled some feathers in her year-plus on the job. 

The clerk took some heat last fall for firing absentee voting supervisors — a Republican and a Democrat. Rolfes said the supervisors repeatedly failed to follow voting procedures. St. Joseph County’s election board agreed but ultimately took over to make the final decision, since state law dictates that only the board may fire the politically appointed voting supervisors. Ultimately, the Democrat supervisor resigned and her Republican colleague was demoted and replaced. 

Rolfes said the supervisors were found on multiple occasions to have pre-signed the envelopes containing completed absentee ballots. St. Joseph County Democratic Party Chairwoman Diana Hess told the South Bend Tribune that the supervisors were just trying to be efficient. 

“My whole campaign was about election integrity and election law,” Rolfes told the publication.  

The clerk told The Federalist that the first line of defense in election integrity is for election administrators to do their job. 

“If more did, maybe we’d see more [election fraud] coming to light,” she said. 


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