Keep talking, Charlie

Last spring:

After Charlie White admitted to voting last year in a precinct in which he did not live during a strange 13-minute talk with reporters on his way into court Friday, his lawyer had a piece of advice for him. “Shut up,” Dennis Zahn told his client. He grabbed White by the arm and escorted him away from reporters.In the hours that followed, it became apparent that Zahn was not the only one at odds with Indiana’s secretary of state.
Sean Keefer, who was White’s campaign manager and then his deputy secretary of state and chief of staff, resigned Friday. Keefer’s deputy position is established by law, and he would have assumed White’s duties if, as many top Republican officials had urged, White took a leave of absence while his legal matters are being resolved. A Hamilton County grand jury has indicted White on seven felony counts. He is accused of voter fraud stemming from his decision to register to vote at his ex-wife’s address around the same time he was moving to a new condominium across the town of Fishers, Ind., last year.Two special prosecutors allege that White did so in order to keep his seat on the Fishers Town Council. His ex-wife’s address is within the district he used to represent, but his new condo is not.

Here’s where we are now:

Indiana’s Republican Secretary of State Charlie White was not eligible to run for the office he now holds and his opponent should be named the winner of the November 2010 election, an Indiana judge ruled.
The Republican secretary of state, who faces seven felony charges including vote fraud, defeated Democrat Vop Osili by more than 340,000 votes in the election. Opponents contended White was not properly registered as a candidate.
White was registered at his ex-wife’s address when he voted in the May 2010 primary and was not registered at his address until after the deadline for filing a declaration of candidacy or certificate of nomination, Judge Louis Rosenberg found in a ruling dated December 21.
Rosenberg, a Marion County Circuit Court judge, reversed a 3-0 Indiana Recount Commission decision finding White eligible and returned the matter to the commission with instructions to certify Osili as secretary of state.

Besides the obvious embarrassment of the state official who is in charge of elections being indicted on charges of voter registration fraud, it’s just perfect that this happened in Indiana, because Indiana paved the way for the voter suppression laws we’re seeing all over the country. Indiana led the way with the most restrictive voter ID law in the country. There are now more restrictive laws in other states, because once conservatives get a voter suppression law past a federal judge they then work to make it still more restrictive, but Indiana was the undisputed national leader on voter suppression efforts.

This is voter registration fraud, not voter impersonation fraud. So. Indiana has one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the country, and that didn’t stop their top elections official from registering and voting in the wrong place. That’s because voter ID laws target the imaginary problem of voter impersonation fraud, while doing next to nothing to address the fraud that actually occurs.

Fascinating, isn’t it, this peek inside the conservative soul, and the values that are reflected in the laws they champion. Mitch Daniels spent all that time and energy restricting ballot access for ordinary voters, and his top elections official was pulling stuff like this right under his nose. Some voters are more equal than others, I guess.

54 replies
  1. 1
    Jerzy Russian says:

    Thanks for posting this Kay. I wish I was surprised, but I am not.

  2. 2
    Elizabelle says:

    Kay: I hope that your work finds a way larger audience.

    And it’s good enough, I think it will. (Or already is.)

    I’m bookmarking this one.

  3. 3
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Um, Kay, you’re overlooking something.

    Charlie White is, um, white. Also, he’s a Republican. This means, by definition, he cannot possibly be involved in any registration fraud. White Republicans don’t do those things. They just don’t. It is, as Ralph Wiggum might say, unpossible.

    Never mind the seven felony counts, and the judge ruling that White can’t serve out the rest of his term. That’s all just technicalities thrown up by the liebrals to obscure the fact that we know that all those fuckin’ kids and darkies are going to commit fraud as egged on by ACORN in massive numbers to deny Republican candidates their God-ordained elective offices.

  4. 4

    Ho. Lee. Shit. I grew up in IndiaNoPlace under Mayors Richard Lugar and then Bill Hudnut. I fancy myself not easily shocked by Hoosier political corruption.

  5. 5
    PurpleGirl says:

    Okay, kids, now in unison, on the count of three; one, two, three…


  6. 6
    Cat Lady says:

    Projection. Total projection all the time. Republicanism should be in the DSM.

  7. 7

    ah, the sweet smell of schadenfreude in the morning. la dee da dee dum

  8. 8
    BGinCHI says:

    Also a Hoosier ex-pat who grew up there. The GOP has controlled the state for so long that anti-voting laws and practices have gone on for so long almost no one notices anymore. When I moved out of the state for grad school and voted elsewhere I was amazed how easy it was and how other states actually want you to vote.

    I have some family here now and we’ve been talking about the Right to Work stuff that’s coming up there. They are very pissed about it and hate Mitch Daniels. They can’t believe anyone would vote against their self-interest so blatantly, since so many folks are already working shitty jobs for shitty pay.

    Ideology rules.

  9. 9
    kay says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I love it because they’ve lost control of White. They can’t seem to limit the damage. He won’t go away.

    His lawyer recognized that arrogance right from the get-go, I think.

    “Shut up” is fairly blunt :)

  10. 10
    amk says:

    Just when you think rethugs couldn’t go deeper in sewers of electoral tactics, they prove you wrong by dredging newer depths.

  11. 11
    rlrr says:

    I asked a troll the other day to provide evidence that even one fraudulent vote was cast for Obama. Funny how when actual vote fraud is found, it always turns out to be a Republican…

  12. 12
    kay says:


    I have some family here now and we’ve been talking about the Right to Work stuff that’s coming up there. They are very pissed about it and hate Mitch Daniels.

    I spoke with a union organizer who worked with us (well, he did all the work, is what happened) in this county on Issue Two last week. He’s headed to Indiana after the new year, on RTW. I was glad. He’s very good. They’re lucky to have him.

  13. 13
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    One of my Facebook friends (Facebook – adj. Modifier of the word friend to mean “I would never hang out with this person anymore, but I knew them in High School”) and I have been having a back and forth about voter fraud. She just knows its everywhere because shut up, thats why. I have put up articles about our Republican Attorney General here in Texas not being able to find any, but that only means there must be some. So yesterday I linked to this story and proclaimed that we finally have a case of voter fraud. It’s probably not what she’s looking for.

  14. 14
    BGinCHI says:

    @kay: It’s all going to come down to whether folks can be educated on the issues. If the GOP machine rolls over people and controls the discourse on union=bad then it will pass. But if a groundswell of consciousness hits the state like it has in WI and elsewhere, things could change in a hurry.

    IN is not necessarily anti-union, since a lot of the state has and has had factories with good-paying union jobs. If this gets framed in terms of wages and benefits, it’s going to get interesting.

    Thanks for your post on this, Kay!

  15. 15
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cat Lady:

    Yup. Everything they whine about is projection.

    These assholes missed their calling…they should all be working at the octoplex down at the mall.

  16. 16
    Lojasmo says:


    The single fraudulent vote found in the Franken/Coleman recount was a felon who voted for Coleman.


  17. 17
    burnspbesq says:


    What’s the maximum sentence he could get if convicted on all counts?

    And what are the morning-line odds on a pardon?

  18. 18
    japa21 says:

    @burnspbesq: I have a feeling that having a Democrat in charge of the elections is scarier to the Republicans, and more of a overall punishment than any jail time might be. Not to say the latter shouldn’t be included.

  19. 19
    BGinCHI says:

    @burnspbesq: In a more Gingrichy land, the state police would be nightsticking that Jewish judge in a windowless room below the streets of Indianapolis.

  20. 20
    kay says:


    If this gets framed in terms of wages and benefits, it’s going to get interesting.

    This is my personal opinion, but I think they are framing these issues the same way they framed the (state) minimum wage referendums in 2006, and those were wildly successful. I was (minimally) involved there, 2006 was such a huge year for Democrats in Ohio I didn’t help with that, but I did talk to the people who were working on it.

    It’s a good template. “Fairness” and no mention of partisan affiliations. A simple question: should people be paid fairly for the work that they do? Voters were persuaded by the fact that workers hadn’t gotten a raise in years. It was just that simple. Because people aren’t horrible greedy assholes, they saw it as an issue of simple fairness on wages for work performed.

    So, I agree with you. The focus should be on WORK. What work do we value and how do we value it? Should workers have a place at the table, and if they don’t, who is going to run the table? That’s even more potent and relevant NOW than it was in 2006, because we’ve gotten such a close personal look at how much managers and executives are paying each other. They certainly value their own work very highly.

  21. 21
    Rick Massimo says:

    It’s like birtherism, only it’s true!

  22. 22
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:


    The plan was to get so many people at the bottom that they would drag everyone but the rich down to their ‘level’. Pure envy, that’s what the rich are counting on. Not of them but of those who have better paying jobs with better benefits. Along the line of them telling the poor:

    Your low wages are paying the high wages and benefits those leeches above you are sucking up. Your low wages are being taxed excessively to pay for lazy government employees, with some of them belonging to UNIONS!.

    Divide and conquer, it’s a tactic that has worked for centuries. The rich have little to worry about as long as they can keep us at each others throats. They dread the day that we stop fighting each other and go after them. What they don’t realize is that their policies will eventually lead to a large number of people turning against them. When could that possibly happen?

    When there is nothing left for the middle to fight over.

  23. 23
    BGinCHI says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    Right on, both of you. It’s about work, and it’s about consciousness. A fancy way to say that people have to figure this out for themselves instead of listening to the radio or the TV. I do think people have been pushed to the limit and there isn’t much margin left to squeeze. If this were good times (and Jimmy Walker assured us that everything was Dynomite) people would probably go for the “I’ve got mine and so let’s lock in this level of quality of life/work.” Then I think this would spell trouble.

    But the status quo right now is not good. I think it’s going to be a tough sell to ask people to take a pay cut for there to be more jobs for themselves and other people at a lower rate. And btw, people ARE concerned about health care and retirement benefits. They’ve just been fed a load of crap about it and it’s taking time to figure out that ACA and other options are good things.

  24. 24
    r€nato says:

    I wonder what John Fund might have to say about this.

    “Hey, look over there! ACORN!”

  25. 25
    Admiral_Komack says:


    …and the troll is nowhere to be found…

  26. 26
    rikyrah says:

    but but but


    of course, this is VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD.

  27. 27
    eric says:

    @BGinCHI: who is this marx fellow of which you clearly speak and how can i subscribe to his newsletter?

  28. 28
    Roy G. says:

    But America is a Center-Right country that was ordained by Jesus to be run by White Republican Males, so this is clearly just doing the Lord’s Work.

    Look! There’s a young buck buying t-bone steaks with welfare stamps!

  29. 29
    The Dude Abides says:

    Not sure if anyone here realizes the potential ramifications of this issue. The court ruled that White was ineligible to even be on the ballot, which means that the 2nd place vote getter (the Democrat) becomes SoS. And since this could mean that the GOP didn’t actually field a candidate for the office, they could be relegated to minor party status for every race, whereby the Dems get the top slot on every voter’s ballot, the Libertarians get 2nd from the top, and the GOP gets sent down toward the bottom of the ballot. For every race!

  30. 30
    r€nato says:

    @The Dude Abides: for EVERY race in IN, simply because they fielded an ineligible candidate for that one office? Wow.

  31. 31
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    The public at large does not do nuance. This will be used a evidence that voter fraud is a huge problem and all the new laws are required.

  32. 32
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): I heard the Pa. Secretary of State say that you can’t detect the fraud when its done correctly. The fact that you can’t find any means that it must be everywhere.

  33. 33
    BGinCHI says:

    @eric: I’ll just beam it straight into your head.

  34. 34
    Shalimar says:

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937: If the guy running for Secretary of State in Indiana, who is supposed to know the law better than anyone, can’t do it correctly, than why would we presume so many ACORN organizers can?

  35. 35
    Origuy says:

    I’m at my dad’s in Bloomington, so I got to see that this is the top story in today’s Indianapolis Star. The Star has been a Republican organ since before I was born (once owned by Dan Quayle’s family), so it’s remarkable that it’s given so much play, The Star has also been running articles about the payroll tax debate which are not complementary to the Republicans. I guess they actually endorsed Oslili, the Democrat, for SoS, so maybe they’re changing.

  36. 36
    El Cid says:

    Is Charlie White a covert operative for the New Black Panther Party? Only they, ACORN, and MALDEF / La Raza know how to do voter fraud.

  37. 37
    Mnemosyne says:

    BTW, Steve Benen quoted Kay in his post about this story.

  38. 38
    JWL says:

    The city of San Francisco prosecuted an ex-supervisor for the same crime, and he is in prison as I type. In addition, he was also convicted for soliciting bribes in his official capacity.

  39. 39
    KCinDC says:

    I’m uncomfortable with the idea of just giving the office to the candidate who came in second. Has that happened in other cases? It effectively disenfranchises all the people who voted for the top candidate, even though they’re not to blame for his ineligibility.

    Seems like the court should declare the position vacant and it should be filled by whatever the normal procedure is.

  40. 40
    moderateindy says:

    This is a perfect example of why the voter fraud charge is total garbage. Look at the circumstances surrounding the crime. And this was just registration fraud.
    We can’t even get half the eligible people out to vote on a good day, and yet supposedly there is a cabal of people going from polling place to polling place, faking like they are someone else?
    You know who commits voter fraud? Rich old white people that have 2 houses in two different states, that they occupy in different times of the year, summer/winter. They vote absentee in one state, and on election day in the other. My guess is that most are Repubs, but I don’t really care because there aren’t enough of them to affect the outcome anyhow.
    Even if there was a mastermind trying to organize massive voter fraud, how many people could he get to participate? How do you pitch that kind of crazy to someone? Hey do you want to risk jail time to add 5 extra votes to so and so’s election total? Please it’s beyond ridiculous

  41. 41
    Me says:

    @KCinDC: That was a possible outcome. It depended on the order of operations. If White was elected and then found guilty of a felony, the office would be vacated and Mitch Daniels would appoint a successor (with a grand total of one person being allowed to vote in that ‘election’). However, White was instead ruled to have been ineligible to be on the ballot in the first place (because he was not a legally registered voter, due to not having updated his registration with his current address), and therefore casting votes for him was equivalent to casting a write-in vote for ‘nobody.’ Therefore, of all the valid votes cast in that election, Vop had the most and was the winner, and the people who voted for a legitimate candidate had their voting respected. The people who wasted their vote on an ineligible candidate are free to be furious at White for tricking them into casting a meaningless vote instead of doing his paperwork properly or withdrawing to let someone else take the ballot line.

    It is going to come down to the Indiana Supreme Court to determine whether votes for White count for purposes of determining the ‘major party’ label. The argument could be that White’s invalid candidacy means the ballot line was legally vacant, and therefore had zero legal votes… but the counterargument would be that the line received actual votes (and straight-ticket votes) and therefore those votes should be counted as ‘votes for that party’s candidate, even if that candidate could not hold office.’ They could go either way. (I would so very, very much love to see Republicans in Indiana ending up having to petition their way onto every single race they want to run in, though).

  42. 42
    catclub says:

    @Shalimar: Soros power rays make ACORN invincibly evil.

  43. 43
    catclub says:

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937: Of course, that is the Diebold division of the voter fraud olympics. Somehow ACORN is not registered to vote _there_.

  44. 44
    Ruckus says:

    Not to sound too trite or whatever, but that’s the breaks. Had his criminal activity been only after he was in office then I could see having a special election. But he was not eligible to run or be elected. He did that by defrauding the voting public. If they only had the 2 choices, him or his opponent then it is fairly logical that the other guy won. Could you make the opposing argument? That his opponent didn’t actually win? Maybe. Also what is the law in Indiana? Maybe it is pretty cut and dried about what to do that once found guilty, this is the only available remedy.

  45. 45
    Aexia says:


    Also, in the Gregoire/Rossi court case, the only fraudulent votes were for Rossi… and well, one for the Libertarian.

    Funny stuff.

  46. 46
    Mnemosyne says:


    I may be talking out of my butt, but I think some of the thinking is that the party itself is supposed to vet the candidates before they run, so the party needs to be punished as well if they run a fraudulent candidate.

  47. 47
    KCinDC says:

    Suppose no Democrat had been running, and the second-place candidate had been some complete wacko who got 5% of the vote, maybe a Nazi. Would it still seem OK to give him the office?

  48. 48
    Ruckus says:

    That’s an interesting point but I don’t see how you would not consider this as punishing the party. Their candidate is an asshole and lost. Yes we vote party but we really are voting for the person. The person files(or not, as in this case) to run, not the party.

    Yeah, them’s the breaks. Maybe the 5% vote nazi could be found to be an asshole for some other reason, but if he did all the right procedures and was the only other candidate then yes, he gets it. I’d take the lesson that to win and have good government, you have to run decent candidates. This chump White certainly didn’t fill that bill.

  49. 49
    JoyfulA says:

    Is White’s crime that he registered to vote from where he was no longer living?

    As far as I know, it isn’t a crime to register, then move, and then vote from the previous address, although I suppose there’s some time limit involved.

  50. 50

    @JoyfulA: Apparently there are both civil and criminal actions going on. The order declaring White ineligible retroactively and removing him from office is in response to a civil suit filed by the state Democratic party.

    The criminal charges have to do with White continuing to collect a salary for sitting on a town council after moving out of the district, and wilfully failing to update his voter registration to reflect that change.

    Or so the googles tell me.

  51. 51

    […] at Balloon Juice added, “Besides the obvious embarrassment of the state official who is in charge of elections being […]

  52. 52
    DanielX says:

    @PurpleGirl: Got that right, and especially in Indiana. Yes, people here do vote against those who do have their welfare at heart. I’ve commented before about talking to people who are union workers, for Chrissakes, who voted for W…twice. Makes you want to get in their faces and scream “THESE PEOPLE WANT TO CUT YOUR ECONOMIC THROAT!”.

    When you tell’em that the Dems at least put up an appearance of looking after their interests, some of them will say “I never asked the Democrats to look after me”. To which my reply is “Yeah, but at least they’re not actively trying to fuck you in the ass without lube, and the Republicans are.”

    I had one guy, small businessman, tell me that you should always kick people when they’re down, it gives them an incentive to get up. He got absolutely bent out of shape when I said there were two reasons not to do that. The first being that it doesn’t accord very well with the Christian beliefs he so strongly follows (supposedly)…nothing these folk hate like being called out as hypocrites. The second reason being that when the kickee does manage to get back on his feet, one of his first priorities just might be to hit you in the back of the head with a brick.

    It’s a fun place to live, and not for nothing is Indiana called the northernmost southern state.

  53. 53
    Andrew J. Lazarus says:

    Come on, it’s not vote fraud when a white person makes a mistake.

  54. 54
    JoyfulA says:

    @Joey Maloney:
    Thank you, Joey Maloney. That’s way more complicated than I expected.

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