When I read last week that the top election official in Indiana was indicted for voter fraud, I thought it would be big news. Indiana has the most restrictive voter access law in the country, and there must be majority interest in voter fraud, judging by the massive media promotion of the (later discredited) ACORN video.
So, I thought I’d wait for the national media firestorm to die down, and then we could separate truth from fiction. We’d view any video submitted by liberal activists and try to determine if it was edited or fictionalized, we’d look at the indictment and Indiana election law, etc.
But, there doesn’t seem to be any national media interest at all in this extraordinary story, so I’ll go ahead.
Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was indicted Thursday on seven felony charges. A Hamilton County grand jury indicted White on three counts of voter fraud for allegedly lying about his address when he voted in last year’s Republican primary. He also faces charges of perjury and fraud on a financial institution – again, for lying about his address – as well as theft for continuing to collect his salary as a Fishers Town Council member after moving from his designated district.
The discrepancy that led to the one of the charges in the indictment was actually revealed well prior to White’s election. White admitted it to a reporter.
Charlie White is no longer a member of the town council in Fishers. The Republican nominee for Secretary of State is disqualified because he moved into a townhouse outside his district. That happened in February. White revealed it yesterday. Today Democratic attorney Greg Purvis called on White to return his pay for the last seven months, more than $7,000, and he called for an investigation because White also failed to register to vote using the address of his new home. Instead he was registered to the home of his ex-wife. Purvis says it was an attempt to keep the council seat.
Reached by phone while campaigning in northern Indiana, White told 24 Hour News 8 “I made a couple silly mistakes. I’ll learn from it.” Meantime, he hopes to become the top election official in Indiana.
Rokita served as the Chairman of the Indiana Recount Commission when Democrats first challenged White’s eligibility last year. At that time Rokita sided with White, voting with the other Republican on the 3-member Recount board, and overriding the administrative challenge 2-1.
“The Recount Commission is an administrative body and it’s not equipped, nor should it be, to deal with criminal charges,” Rokita said in response to his previous stance. “Charlie should at least step aside temporarily until these charges are ajudicated,” said White’s predecessor, Congressman Todd Rokita, who says White has lost credibility
Rokita is the former Indiana Secretary of State. He’s the person who pushed Indiana to adopt the most onerous and restrictive ID requirements in the country. Rokita testified before the US Congress on the solution in search of a problem that voter ID laws address, which is “voter impersonation fraud”. He’s now in the US Congress.
A special prosecutor was appointed prior to the election, but White remained on the ballot and White won the election.
What happens next matters, because if White resigns or is convicted of a felony, the question then becomes whether Mitch Daniels or the GOP majority in the state legislature appoint the next Secretary of State, or whether the next-highest vote-getter (the Democrat) takes the seat.
This is the Indiana Law Blog on the relevant difference between “ineligible” (next highest vote-getter gets seat) and a “vacancy” (Mitch Daniels appoints replacement):
IF White was fraudulently registered to vote at the wrong address, then:
(a) he was ineligible to be nominated by the GOP and
(b) ineligible to serve now that he’s been elected.
In that case, he would not be able to resign from office, leaving a vacancy for the Governor to fill — because he would never have assumed the office.
Whenever the commission makes a final determination under section 18 of this chapter that the candidate who is subject to a contest proceeding is not eligible to serve in the office to which the candidate is nominated or elected, the candidate who received the second highest number of votes for the office is entitled to a certificate of nomination or certificate of election even though a certificate may have been issued to another candidate upon the tabulation of the votes.
But if White assumes office, and then is convicted of, or pleads guilty to, a felony, and resigns from office, he will have created a vacancy.
When, during a recess of the General Assembly, a vacancy shall happen in any office, the appointment to which is vested in the General Assembly; or when, at any time, a vacancy shall have occurred in any other State office, or in the office of Judge of any Court; the Governor shall fill such vacancy, by appointment, which shall expire, when a successor shall have been elected and qualified.
There is an April 6th hearing on the Democrat’s appeal of the Indiana Recount decision that allowed White to proceed as Secretary of State. The next question, apart from the allegations in the indictment, is whether White was eligible to be on the ballot at all.
You’ll find the Indiana Democratic Party’s “Brief in Support of Reversal of Indiana Recount Commission” (pdf) at the Indiana Law Blog.