Joannie Herr, a Knox County resident, explained she became skeptical of the Johnstons’ when Hal and Geri voted in the primary election. Herr told News 10, it was common knowledge that Hal lived in Vigo County, although he had worked for the Knox County Prosecutor’s Office for the past 18 years. Herr explained her suspicions became corroborated when she shared her thoughts on a popular Knox County facebook page, ‘Take Back Vincennes.’ The site allows for open forum discussion regarding political workings in the city and county. Herr noted when she shared her thoughts, several other people agreed; they banded together to learn more about the Johnstons.
“We’re not out to throw Hal off the ballot, we were just challenging his vote, whether or not he was legal to vote in Knox County or Vigo County,” said Herr.
In late September, Herr and a few colleagues filed a complaint with the county election board challenging if Hal and wife Geri were registered voters in the Knox County precinct in which they reside. After the complaint was filed, as procedure, the Knox County Election Board launched and investigation and set a hearing date to review the findings.
“What has he done for us in the last 18 years? Nothing,” said Herr.The Knox Co. Election Board held a hearing on Thursday to hear Herr's complaint. She came prepared with plenty of evidence to prove Johnston lived in Vigo Co. instead of Knox Co. where he legally must reside in order to run for county prosecutor and cast ballots there. Herr submitted a sales disclosure home for the purchase of Johnston's Terre Haute home, the warranty deed, property tax records, a copy of his driver's license and signed statements of Johnston's Terre Haute neighbors. Herr even hired a private detective to follow Johnston and his wife, the part that really peeved Johnston. “The most extraordinary part though, was they admitted during the hearing that they had hired a private investigator to follow my wife and I around,” said Hal Johnston.
Despite all of the evidence Herr offered in support of her complaint, the election board ruled unanimously in Johnston's favor, determining that he and his wife resided for purposes of the state's voting residency law at a home in Vincennes. Johnston was quite flippant in his reaction to the board's ruling in his favor. “These people are crazy,” said Johnston. Johnston joked during the hearing, the only thing left he could do to prove his residency in Knox County would be “to die in Knox County.” Will he be refunding the property tax savings he got by claiming a homestead credit in Vigo Co.?
Here's a TV ad Johnston ran four years ago when he sought the Democratic nomination for Vigo Co. prosecutor--presumably as a resident of Terre Haute.