Indiana News

Secretary of State-Elect Tries Again to Halt Election Challenge

White: Democrats misstated law in claiming he's ineligible to serve

12/6/2010

Secretary of State-elect Charlie White has filed his second attempt to dispose of a Democratic Party challenge to his election.

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The state recount commission tossed out White's first dismissal motion for not specifying how he believes Democrats failed to comply with the law on contested elections. Attorney David Brooks filed a five-page supplement 23 minutes before the commission's noon Monday deadline to try again.

"While I believe that it was clear which statutes we were talking about...the commission wanted it to be crystal-clear and exact," Brooks says.

The revised version references the clause in question 11 times, and contends Democrats failed to offer a "specific statutory requirement" White does not meet.

State Democratic Chairman Dan Parker argues Democratic nominee Vop Osili, who lost to White 57-37%, should take office instead of his Republican rival because White is ineligible to serve.

Parker claims White is ineligible to take office because he registered to vote at the wrong address. Brooks says that's a misstatement of the law, which requires only that candidates be registered in the district they intend to serve -- in White's case, the entire state.

Democrats also claim White is ineligible because of a special prosecutor's investigation of whether White committed a felony by voting in the primary from what opponents say was the wrong address. Brooks calls that claim "frivolous," since White has yet to be charged with anything, much less convicted.

And Brooks says it's too late to challenge a candidate's eligibility when the election's already over. He points to the Indiana Supreme Court's rejection of a similar post-election challenge to the victory of Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett.

Once the election is over, the court ruled, a winning candidate is no longer a candidate, but the officeholder-elect.

The recount commission meets Sunday in Mount Vernon to retally the ballots in Republican Wendy McNamara's disputed eight-vote victory over Democrat Bob Deig for a state House seat. It's unclear whether the commission will take up White's motion then, or schedule a separate hearing.

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