Monday, December 13, 2010

Recount Commission Dismisses White Election Contest Petition

A petition filed by the Indiana Democratic Party challenging the election of Republican Secretary of State winner Charlie White because he misrepresented his primary place of residence for voting purposes so he could continue to hold his seat on the Fishers town council was dismissed late last night by the Indiana Recount Commission by a 2-1 vote along party lines. Outgoing Secretary of State Todd Rokita, who chaired the Commission and will be sworn in as a Member of Congress representing Indiana's 4th District in January, refused to a request to hear the motion to dismiss first on the Recount Commission's agenda when it convened yesterday at 12:00 noon. Instead, he forced the attorney for the Democratic Party, Karen Celestino-Horseman, to cool her heels for nearly 12 hours while the Commission handled a state legislative recount case. Rokita was miffed Democratic attorneys had asked him to recuse himself because his office had prepared a report looking into the allegations White had committed voter fraud, which he later turned over to a special prosecutor investigating whether White broke any laws prior to the November election at which White was elected. Rokita refused to release the report to the public. Democrats questioned Rokita's impartiality because he had endorse White's candidacy and contributed financially to his campaign, in addition to the fact his office had already investigated the case but kept the findings confidential.

In dismissing the challenge, Rokita accused the Democrats of engaging in judicial activism by taking up the Commission's time with their election contest petition and suggested their interpretation that a candidate for secretary of state not only had to be a registered voter but also a "legally" registered voter contrary to the statutory qualification to be a candidate. Republican attorney David Brooks, who represented White, contended the state law only required White to be a registered voter to run for the office. Without conceding White had fraudulently misrepresented his place of residence for voting purposes, Brooks contended White was still a registered voter whether he voted in the proper precinct, the only requirement of him to be a candidate for the office. Brooks also represented the candidate in the Commission's other agenda item concerning an election contest for a state representative race in the Mt. Vernon area where yesterday's Commission hearing was held. Although Rokita had earlier agreed to hear Brooks' motion to dismiss the White election contest as the first agenda item during the previous hearing held a week ago Sunday during a Colts football game, he later changed his mind and scheduled Brooks' motion to dismiss the case as the second item on the Commission's agenda. The Commission agreed at it last hearing Brooks would have to refile his motion due to a legal flaw in it pointed out by the Democratic attorneys.


artfuggins said...

I would like to know the difference between a 'registered voter" and a "legally registered voter." I guess we have a new category labeled "illegally registered voter and Rokita thinks it is sufficient to hold a state wide office. I suspect we will see more of this in court.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Artfuggins - you make a great point. I'd only add - hold a statewide office overseeing elections.