Thursday, February 01, 2007

Democrats Demanding A Special Election In 4th House District

Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) won the 4th District House race last November by over 12,000 votes, but Democrats are demanding that a special election be called to replace him because of questions concerning his residency. Soliday and the neighbors in his subdivision have been classified by the Porter County Clerk as living in the 4th District, but maps of the district show the subdivision as being outside the district. The Northwest Indiana Times Bob Kasarda writes about the ongoing dispute:

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.


Anonymous said...

I strongly disagree, Gary.

Congresspersons are not required to live in their district, only in the state of Indiana.

Most other elected offices, however, have strict residency requirements. Few, if any prospective candidates are unaware of these requirements. It is incumbent upon the office-seeker to confirm the residency, not the clerk. I mean, for cryin out loud, Doris Ann Sadler is only 38 and she screwed up, oh, six or seven elections. Are you really willing to let any elected clerk give you THE definitive answer?

Everyone in Indiana who lives near or on a district boundary should go to the "nth" degree to check requirements before filing. Merely asking the clerk, who in this case is likely a cronie, is not sufficient. Because as most Marion Conty voters know, the clerk can be wrong. And in some cases, is almost always wrong.

A new election would likely produce another Republican, given the district's makeup. But it wouldn't be Solliday. He apparently doesn't live there, and is therefore not qualified. Unless he moves a block or so. His answer is also a little bit cheeky. Sounds like a true smartass.

It's really pretty simple. On the basketball court, we call this a "correctable error." The referee has the right to make a change in the original call.

Which is exactly what should happen.

Sir Hailstone said...

And sometimes cartographers can be wrong too. So what do we go by? the statute or a cartographer's interpretation of such?

How about this - legislative districts that resemble normal boundaries on a freaking map????

Anonymous said...

Legislative maps have existed for quite some time, certainly long before the 2006 filing deadline for the House races.

If there were any errors in any of the written district definitions, technical errors could have been corrected.

The guy probably lives in the wrong district. If so, he has to go. It's that simple. The Republicans will probably keep the district, but not with this guy.

Anonymous said...

It is important to post accurate information on a public blog. The following corrections will help readers understand the issue better. There were 19,259 votes cast in the 2006 district 4 race between Sylvia Graham and Ed Soliday. 10,175 votes went to Soliday, 9,084 for Graham. That is a difference of 1,084 votes. So to say that there are 12,300 disenfranchised voters is not true. Please check the public voting record to confirm this information.

The discrepancy with the district line was actually discovered by a voter who was curious about whether the district map in the local clerk's office was correct. He was able to determine that the line on the map in the local office was different from the line on the map the state has.
The possibility of voter disenfranchisement is a neutral issue - it is not a partisan issue. It occurs when any voter is prevented from exercising their constitutionally-protected right to vote with a legal ballot at a legal voting site in a legal race for a legal candidate. Regardless of the office or slate of candidates, it is essential that all legal requirements are met by each candidate. The pursuit of accuracy in the district boundaries and determination of eligibility
for each candidate is in the best interest of ALL voters. It is important to the integrity of our system of government. Elected office holders and candidates should support any effort to clarify discrepancies in the voting process. To criticize or stymie such efforts is undemocratic (small D) and disrespectful to all voters. I would like to know that my representative is interested in the truth and the constitutionality of the election that put him or her in office.

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely ridiculous. The voters in this neighborhood have voted in this district in previous elections this was not a first time thing. You are making Soliday out to be the bad guy but if your neighbors and your neighborhood ad previously voted in the 4th district and you check with the clerk, voters registration and your neighbors. What else would you need here.

I find it ridiculous for someone to say that voters would not be disenfranchised. There are five people filing this action. There were 10175 people that voted for Soliday and 9084 people that voted for Graham where are 19255 people to file a complaint?
I think the person to drop the ball was the Democrats who if they had a problem would have challenged Mr. Soliday's residency before the election not after he has already been sworn in. That is why there are the period of time given to challenge candidates. The funny part is they are going on and on about the lines being redrawn by the county which by the way would have been Sheets (D), Burris(D) and Evans (R)no complaints when it was done. Also I believe that the Head of the Democrat & Republican Voter Registration has to certify the ballots as being correct if the Head of the Democrat side had a question about it why did she certify the ballot?

The answer because it has been this way for years so to make Mr. Soliday look like the bad guy is ridiculous. This man worked hard, spent his own money, checked where his district is and this whole thing is ridiculous.

I would make a bet that if we really wanted to start checking where people residency there would be a few more around the state that wouldn't be "in" their district and I'll bet unlike Mr. Soliday they blantantly knew it.

Anonymous said...

Please realize that the line was redrawn by the county only. Even if the Democratic party had looked into the residency issue at the county level, it would have been led to believe that Soliday was in the district. However, the state map, which at this point is considered the correct one, still showed Soliday out of district. Actually, Ed Soliday may not the "bad guy" in this whole thing. It is probably more true that he is an unfortunate bystander in the fallout from county employees and/or elected officials changing the district map unconstitutionally. Again, it all depended on which map was used as reference in establishing residency.
The inference of any claim that voters had not been disenfranchised is mistaken. Of course they have been. Voters in the 4th district were presented with a candidate that may be determined to have been on the ballot illegally. I don't know that anyone should be faulted for not knowing that the district map available from the county was inaccurate. Thus, there would be no reason to fault members of either party for not investigating at the time of the election. Given the fact that a resident did discover the discrepancy, it is essential that a determination be made by the state entity that is responsible for doing so. Again, no one should work to prevent that from happening and everyone should be willing to stand by the determination so that the voting process is protected. The important thing, in the end, is that a replacement be appointed or elected in the constitutionally appropriate way to avoid any further question or accusation of intentional deceit.