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Morales addresses Clerk’s Association in Hammond

Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales was in Lake County for the second time to address the 2024 Northern District Clerk’s Association Spring Conference on Wednesday.

Morales shared the work of his first 18 months in office and his efforts to safeguard election integrity. Work has included an effort to visit all 92 counties last year and the distribution of about $2 million in election improvement grants made possible by the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002. This year, he has returned to more than 60 of those counties to distribute the funding.

“I wanted you each to know we are a team,” Morales said.

Morales said he asked county clerks and election officials about what tools and resources they needed while on his visits.

“There are a lot of ways we can use the money. I knew the best way to use it was to give it to the county clerks. The stronger our counties are, the stronger our state will be,” Morales said.

He said he is most proud of the passage of House Bill 1264, which is awaiting the governor’s signature. The legislation establishes eligibility to vote with rules about proof of citizenship and residency requirements.

“Under my watch, only eligible U.S. citizens will be able to vote in our elections right here in the Hoosier state. The key word is eligible,” Morales said.

There is scant evidence of voter fraud in Indiana.

Increasing voter turnout will be a big focus of the office as the 2024 presidential election cycle approaches. Morales said his office will register voters at the Indiana State Fair and encouraged clerks across the state to do the same, promising his office would cover the cost.

“Here in Indiana, we have wonderful elections. We’re a team. But there’s always room for improvement. I want Indiana to be a model state,” Moreles said.

Lake County Clerk Mike Brown said this is the first time Lake County has hosted the event, which took place at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond.

The two-day conference included a wide variety of presentations for the clerks including sessions on ethics and estates and guardianship. Most of the presentations focused on elections, including a session on election best practices led by Lake County Board of Elections Director Michelle Fajman and Deputy Director LeAnn Angerman.

“It’s a really great turnout,” Brown said.

cnapoleon@chicagotribune.com