Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recount Commission Unanimously Agrees White Is Eligible To Hold Office

In a one-hour meeting devoid of arguing and bickering over the facts and law, the three-member Recount Commission panel comprised of two Republicans and one Democrat ruled unanimously that Secretary of State Charlie White had not committed vote fraud in the 2010 primary election by casting a vote at his ex-wife's residence, thereby rejecting a petition filed by the Indiana Democratic Party to have him deemed ineligible to serve as Secretary of State and have his Democratic opponent who he overwhelmingly defeated in the November general election take his place in office as the second-highest vote getter.

To the disappointment of Democratic partisans and long-faced members of the media in attendance at today's hearing, Democratic commission member Bernard Pylitt assured the public the Commission's decision was not about partisan politics or a pending criminal case against White. The Commission's decision Pylitt said was based on the choices the legislature made in enacting Indiana's Election Code based on Indiana court decisions. Pylitt maintained the Democratic Party petitioners had failed to present sufficient evidence to prove White was not legally eligible to vote when he ran for Secretary of State.

Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler echoed Pylitt's sentiments. Wheeler said he was distressed by media reports that had questioned his impartiality in the proceedings based on contributions his law firm had made to White during the 2010 election, noting his law firm had also made contributions to White's Democratic opponent Vop Osili as well. As I've reminded people repeatedly on this blog, Wheeler cited the defining case involving the contest Republicans filed against Evan Bayh when he ran for governor in 1988 challenging whether he had continuously maintained a residence in Indiana during the previous 5 years as required by the Indiana Constitution as determinative  in today's ruling. Wheeler pointed to the fact that Bayh had moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, where he remained for one and one half years before returning to Indiana. Nonetheless, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed Bayh's eligibility based on his stated intent of maintaining his voting residence in Shirkieville, Indiana at the family's farm. Wheeler said it was impossible to overcome White's stated intention of maintaining his residence at his ex-wife's home until he remarried and moved in with his second wife. He did add, however, his belief that White had "treaded a very thin line" in declaring his voting address and he was very disappointed in White for allowing himself to get into his legal predicament.

Wheeler stated his belief that the election laws Indiana has enacted based on the Bayh decision are antiquated and do not take into account the mobile society in which we live and the frequency of people changing addresses due to job changes and divorces. I disagree with Wheeler's conclusion those laws need to be changed. In fact, to enact more exacting laws that result in more criminal prosecutions like has occurred with White will only serve to discourage citizens from registering to vote and participating in the election process. Indeed, the Democratic Party based its opposition to the simple requirement of asking voters to display a government-issued photo identification in order to cast a vote on the premise that it would disenfranchise voters, particularly impoverished members of society who are without a home or job.

The laws on the books concerning eligibility to vote represent cases Democratic attorneys fought hard and successfully argued should be the standard for determining voter intent in past decisions, including Evan Bayh and Judge David Evrard. They can't now be heard to complain about the election laws they helped codify into Indiana's Election Code. The Democrats' attorneys, Karen Horseman and Bill Groth, did an excellent job advocating their client's position, but the law was simply not their friend in this case. I can assure you there will be no legislative attempts made by Democratic legislators to tighten up the requirements for voting; they know too well that a more exacting standard will be a trap for many an unwary voter of their political liking.

In light of today's ruling, Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation should act on motions made by White's attorneys to have the criminal charges a special prosecutor has brought against him dismissed. To put it simply, if the Democratic Party could not prove fraud in the civil proceeding, suffice it to say there is more than reasonable doubt concerning the criminal charges the special prosecutor has brought against White that arose from the same set of facts. Justice requires that the criminal case against White be disposed of promptly. It should have never been brought in the first instance.

UPDATE: The Recount Commission's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law have been uploaded to the Election Division's website and can be accessed here.

10 comments:

Cato said...

Time to drop the criminal case. If White didn't lose on a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard, there's no way he's going to lose on a beyond-a-reasonable doubt standard.

Proof, again, that in America, today, you can indict a ham sandwich and courts have utterly perverted what a grand jury is supposed to do.

Judges note: A grand jury, in the proper American model, is supposed to reject most cases and refuse to return indictments, not the other way 'round.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Cato,

Excellent post. The problem with the grand jury system is the prosecutors can pick and choose what evidence to present. If they want to indictment someone, they just leave out exculpatory evidence and testimony.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I wonder if Jim Shella, Ann Delaney and Mike McDaniel will ea a big helping of crow on the air on Friday's IWIR?

Advance Indiana said...

No, They'll just say he got lucky and got off on a technicality. Ann DeLaney speaks with such a forked tongue. She argues the complete opposite when the shoe is on the foot and one of her favorite Democrats like Evan Bayh is being poked in the eye with the law.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Yeah, I get a kick out of that "technicality" argument. Don't they realize the whole arguments against him are based on a technicality?"

Advance Indiana said...

There are so many laws on our books that you could prosecute virtually every American at one point or on a technical violation.

Cato said...

When the laws are so numerous, every man is a criminal. - Many

More law, less justice. - Cicero

Let's hope this experience with inflexible authority has cured White of any right-wing leanings.

varangianguard said...

I would have said some really snarky stuff, but I just can't be any funnier than the theatre that has been Charlie White himself.

And, you guys are proud to stand with him? Hmm.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Varan,

The law is the law is the law is the law.

Apparently you believe the law should apply differently if the person is unpopular. I don't belive that.

varangianguard said...

You misunderstand me, Paul. I don't care as much abot the case as I do about what a buffoon that Charlie White appears to be. And here in Indiana, THAT is who gets on the ballot? Really?