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Local election official to step down 5 weeks before start of historic vote

Melinda Luedecke, was named elections administrator in the summer of 2017.
Melinda Luedecke, was named elections administrator in the summer of 2017.(Staff/file)
Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 2:17 PM CDT
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) – Bell County Elections Administrator Melinda Luedecke is stepping down on Sept. 8, less than five weeks before the start of early voting on Oct. 13 in a historic and challenging election.

The Bell County Election Commission Monday appointed Assistant Administrator Matthew Dutton to succeed her on an interim basis.

Luedecke, who was named elections administrator in the summer of 2017, is resigning as her department prepares for the challenge of in-person voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an expected increase in requests for mail-in ballots and a heated presidential race at the top of the ballot that’s likely to spur voter turnout.

The vote in national, state, regional and county races coincides not only with voting in cities and school districts that opted to schedule elections in November, but also city and school elections originally scheduled for May that were postponed until this fall because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The county’s Election Commission, which is made up the county Republican and Democratic party chairs, County Judge David Blackburn, County Clerk, Shelley Costin, and County Tax Assessor-Collector Shay Luedeke, will launch a formal hiring process for a replacement after the election.

The group Members of Black Ladies Advancing Qualitative and Quantitative Change is calling for some answers about the impact of the resignation.

“The voters deserve to know why and what will be done to ensure that her departure does not adversely impact the ability of citizens of Bell County to vote and have their votes count in this election cycle,” the organization said in a press release.

McLennan County’s election administrator, Kathy E. Van Wolfe, announced on Aug. 4 that she will resign effective Nov, 30, after the election.

The county’s Election Commission, made up of County Judge Scott Felton, County Clerk Andy Harwell, Tax Assessor-Collector Randy Riggs and representatives from county political parties, will gather to decide how to proceed in naming a new administrator and then will decide who that should be, Felton said.

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