State Democrats are rallying behind the accusation that newly elected Republican State Rep. Ed Soliday does not live in his district."The only fair thing to do is have another election," Indiana Democratic Chairman Dan Parker said Wednesday.
Yet Soliday said the issue is not even close to being resolved and warned a special election could backfire on Democrats. The people of Porter County have a good sense of justice, he said.
"Be careful what you wish for," Soliday said.Soliday's residency was called into question last week by Porter County Democratic Party Chairman Leon West, who said he was responding to a complaint from a voter.
Maps of the district, including one linked to Soliday's own legislative Web site, place his house at 2307 Throughwoods Drive in Valparaiso just outside the 4th District. Soliday, who replaced long-time State Rep. Ralph Ayres this year, said the maps are wrong and what matters anyway is the description of the district as spelled out in state code.
Democrats within the bipartisan election division of the Indiana secretary of state's office agreed Wednesday that it appears Soliday lives in the 10th District and not the 4th that he represents, according to voter registration and precinct Coordinator Michelle Brzycki.
She said the finding was made after reviewing aerial and GIS maps.Republican representatives within the same office did not return telephone calls Wednesday, but Soliday said he was told by the group that no official determination has been made concerning his residency.
Soliday reiterated that he researched the issue before agreeing to run for the seat last year."
The big question is how far do these people want to go to disenfranchise
12,300 voters," he said, referring to his margin of victory.
Parker said he thinks the issue is headed for the courts, where he believes a special election should be ordered.He accused officials in Porter County of erring in crossing a legislative district line when adding Soliday's neighborhood to Center Precinct 29. That type of change can only happen at the time of legislative reapportionment, which occurs every 10 years, he said.
Helen Dame, the Democratic representative in the county voter registration office, was unable to confirm when or if the change involving the precinct took place.
Right or wrong, the Democrats have succeeded in casting a cloud over the legitimacy of Soliday's election. This is not fair to him. If the county clerk says you live in a particular legislative district, and you are issued a ballot every two years which allows you to cast a vote in that legislative district, you should be able to rely on that as evidence of your residency in the district. The real answer to this dilemma must be discerned from the written words of the Indiana Code defining this legislative district and not a legislative map interpreting the code.