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Bell County's election administrator retires after 28 years of service

Posted at 8:33 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 12:37:41-04

BELTON, TX — Melinda Luedecke’s last day as the elections administrator for Bell County is September 8, and with early voting just six weeks away, some residents are worried that her decision will affect their voting process.

“If you’re the elections administrator, you generally wouldn’t resign/retire so close to a major and such an important presidential election,” said Pamela Cleveland, the vice chair of the elections committee for the Black Ladies Advancing Qualitative and Quantitative Change, or BLAQ2C for short.

Luedecke has been with the county for 28 years, leaving behind big shoes to fill.

“There will be nothing done any differently come September 9 and on that wouldn’t have been done if I would still be here,” Luedecke said.

It’s a role Matthew Dutton, the interim elections administrator, says he is prepared to take on.

“I’ve been doing this now for close to a decade,” Dutton said. “So, a lot of those answers I already know now. They’re almost second nature. They just come right to me.”

But the sudden change has caused some uncertainty for some residents.

“We wanna ensure that everyone who wants to register has the opportunity to get registered,” Cleveland said. “That everyone who registers has an opportunity to vote, and that everyone who votes that their vote is counted.”

Cleveland told 25 News some concerns she has include the lack of staffing and how it will affect early voting. She also mentioned the distrust some people have with the Post Office, so it leaves some residents in a bind when it comes to mail-in voting. But Dutton has one word of advice.

“Just make sure to have an extra bit of patience just because it’s a big election,” Dutton said. “There’s going to be a lot of folks to get through.”

Bell County officials said the transition will be seamless, but there is still one last thing to do, and that’s on us.

“It’s important to vote, that every vote counts," Cleveland said sternly. “And it’s up to us as individuals to make sure we’re registered and that we make a plan to get out there and vote.”

Dutton told 25 News the change won’t have a huge effect on the upcoming election but warns people to be aware of voter deadlines as the voter registration cutoff approaches next month.