Friday, August 17, 2007

Marion Co. Election Board Fails Voters Again

The Marion Co. Election Board has now failed the voters twice with respect to Councilor Patrice Abduallah (D). When he first ran for the council four years ago, the Board had compelling evidence Abduallah had filed false campaign finance reports with respect to the source of his contributions. Libertarian candidate Brad Klopfenstein, an opponent of Abduallah's, had to repeatedly complain to the Election Board before it finally let Abduallah off with a slap on the hand and a $100 fine. In Fort Wayne this week, we witnessed Fort Wayne GOP mayoral candidate Matt Kelty being indicted by a grand jury led by a special prosecutor on multiple felony counts for filing false campaign finance reports after the Allen Co. Election Board determined he had done nothing wrong on a party-line vote.

Election Board administrator Andy Mallon now readily admits election administrators, which includes Marion Co. Clerk Beth White, knew there was an issue with Councilor Abduallah's statement of candidacy when he filed it for re-election back in January. The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy explains our election administrators position on Abduallah:

Abduallah said he did not recall getting a call Feb. 26 from Marion County Election Board officials informing him that his voter registration address in the 900 block of North Sheffield Avenue did not match his candidate filing address. He would have been allowed to amend his filing before March 2 with the approval of the Election Board.

Andy Mallon, the Election Board administrator, said the candidates certify the form as correct by signing their name. He said the board does not have a responsibility to check that an address falls within the right district.

"The board doesn't have the legal authority to issue a challenge on its own," Mallon said. "Only a voter in the district can file a challenge."

Mallon's position is total bunk. These folks work for the voters to ensure the integrity of our electoral system. If they have in their position evidence a candidate is not eligible to seek an office for which he has filed to run, they have an affirmative duty to inform the public, even if, as Mallon asserts, they cannot file a formal complaint against the candidate themselves. But once again, the Star does not ask any of the tough questions. Did Marion Co. Democratic Chairman Mike O'Connor know about Abduallah's residency problem? Was the Republican member of the Board or Tom John informed of the residency problem so John could file a formal complaint? The answer appears to no, but even if John had been informed, would he have even bothered to file a complaint. Based on his quote in O'Shaughnessy's article, it is doubtful. John says he didn't check on Abduallah's residency. "Had we been the ones to challenge instead of the citizens, we would have heard cries of partisanship," John told O'Shaughnessy. "I'd rather elevate the debate than bring it down to that level."

Something is clearly wrong here. This Sgt. Schultz "I know nothing" approach is simply not working. We need to institute a new system of checks and balances in our electoral process. The folks in charge are clearly not looking out for the best interests of the voting public.


Wilson46201 said...

Lest it be forgotten: 4 years ago the Election Board was controlled and staffed by Republicans. The GOP snoozed on those alleged campaign finance violations by Anduallah...

Gary R. Welsh said...

Yes, Wilson, and I noted that in my earlier post on the subject.

Anonymous said...

That was 4 years ago. this is now and if you haven't noticed there is a tax protest going on in this town. Politicians will get by with nothing illegal or corrupt as long as the public is watching.

Anonymous said...

Is it too late for me to file to run in his spot. Even though I live in Pike I guess it is ok to use an address in that district instead of my own ?

Pike Voter

Anonymous said...

I love this

"The board doesn't have the legal authority to issue a challenge on its own," Mallon said. "Only a voter in the district can file a challenge."

How would the average citizen even KNOW that they should look it up and challenge it.

The Election board should have been our front and vocal about this from the very beginning.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know those two gentlemen that spoke up about Abdullah's residency fraud at the CCC meeting on August 6th?

We need to find those men and check if they made any formal citizen complaints through proper channels. Something tells me that they likely did.

Their anger at that meeting was the type of anger seemed to me to be the kind of anger that comes from frustration from not being heard for a long time.

I smell something sour.

Anonymous said...

8:37, the position taken by Mr. Mallon may be correct. It sounds logical. He'd best check all the candidates in a priamry, because you never know who might sneak through and become your nominee (evidence our incumbent surveyor). And you're right, voters shouldn't be expected to check such formalities.


Where were the two party chairs on this issue?

You'd better bet your bottom dollar that from now on:

1. BEFORE filing deadlines, the County Chair will check all his own candidates to make sure residency, felonies, etc., are not an issue.

2. AFTER the deadlines, opposing party chairs will do the same, and, if they discover irregularities, frankly: they may wait until the last possible minute to do the "gotcha" after the opposing party can easily rectify the problem. That's not good citizenship, but, sadly, it is politics as usual.

Never a dull moment, huh?

Anonymous said...

Melyssa has a great point to follow up. This is the type of digging that can bring this house of crap down.