Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is being touted as a 2012 presidential candidate by national media and conservative political pundits due, in part, to Indiana's controversial Voter ID law, one of the most restrictive voting laws in the entire country. Gov. Daniels argued strenuously that this law was necessary to 'protect the integrity of the vote' and to 'prevent voter fraud', despite there not being one single documented case of in-person voter fraud in the history of the state- until now, perhaps.
Believe it or not, questions are swirling around Charlie White, the Mitch Daniels' endorsed Republican candidate for Secretary of State. That's right, the candidate who, if elected, would be responsible for administering elections in Indiana and overseeing the exact same laws he's being accused of violating!
If elected, White would be responsible for administering the 2012 presidential election - the same election Daniels is hoping wins him the White House.
The Facts of the Case
As reported by the Evansville Courier and Press and first brought to light by Greg Purvis, a Fishers, Indiana resident and attorney:
The Republican candidate for Indiana secretary of state is under fire for living on the east side of Fishers, an Indianapolis suburb, while registering to vote and representing a town council district on the west side
In February, Charlie White moved into a condominium outside the district he represented. But at the time he did not leave his council post.
White updated his voter registration, but instead of listing the new address where he now lives, he used the address of a house in which he and his former wife lived until they divorced in 2007. She now owns that house.
White remarried in May.
Greg Purvis, a former Democratic Fishers Town Council candidate who criticized White at a Wednesday news conference, took credit for forcing the issue. He called for White to exit the secretary of state's race.
According to documents Purvis presented, after the 2007 divorce, White moved to an apartment that was still inside his Town Council district and updated his voter registration to reflect that move.
But ahead of this May's primary, White switched his voter registration address back to his ex-wife's house. At the same time, he moved into a new condominium.
White represented the southwestern corner of Fishers on the Town Council. The trip from that district to his new residence, on the town's northeastern side, requires crossing three districts.
White was a Town Council member for 10 years and was involved in drawing the current boundary lines. Purvis said he doesn't believe White was unaware that he no longer lived in the district he represented.
"That's just not credible, particularly when he took steps to cover it up," Purvis said. "This looks like a deliberate flouting of election law. He tries to make this election about the integrity of the ballot, but then he goes and violates the very principle he says he believes in."
White listed his condominium as his residency after winning the Republican Party nomination for secretary of state in June, but he listed his ex-wife's house as his mailing address -- a move Purvis called curious.
A spokesman for White's campaign did not dispute the facts as Purvis portrayed them, but said what's important is that as soon as White became aware of the problem, he moved to correct it by resigning.
Going Further Down the Rabbit Hole
So, White has already admitted to serving in a Fishers Town Council seat illegally. White, an attorney, says he just realized his mistake, even though he had been living five miles outside of his district for more than last seven months; he has been serving illegally while casting key votes in the Town Council.
This appears to be election fraud and a breach of public trust, and all the while, White continued to collect his salary, $7,000, from the Fishers taxpayers. White, by the way, has been in this position for 10 years, assisted in creating the district lines, and is the current Hamilton County Republican Chairman. He also served as the Hamilton County Coordinator in 2004 and 2008 for the Mitch Daniels for Governor Campaign.
But that's just the beginning of White's potential legal problems. His explanation for re-registering in 2010 at his ex-wife's address raises a lot of suspicion. White claims that he temporarily moved back in with his ex-wife in 2009 while waiting for his condo to close. (Really, his new wife was cool with him living with his ex-wife while they were waiting to close on their new home? The new wife he married in May 2010?)
Let's accept that there are no legal problems with this voter registration. White changed his registration back to his ex-wife's home address in February of this year and officially moved into his new condo in March of 2010. He has publically acknowledged these facts and they are documented independently as well. But, he not only didn't update his voter registration to his new address, he voted in the May 2010 Primary at the precinct where his ex-wife's house is located.
According to Indiana law and the current Secretary of State's website, you are eligible to vote if:
- You are both a U.S. citizen and a resident of Indiana; and
- You will be at least 18 years of age on or before the next General or Municipal Election, and
- You are not currently in prison after being convicted of a crime; and
- You have lived in the precinct where you vote for at least 30 days prior to the election; and
- You are registered to vote.
An "Embarrassing Mistake
If you have moved outside of your precinct since the last election, you must re-register to be eligible to vote. You may only vote in your old precinct if you move to another precinct within 30 days before the election. White moved more than 30 days before the election, so he was not eligible to vote at his old precinct. But, he did it anyway. He says it's all an "embarrassing mistake".
To put it bluntly, the "embarrassing mistake" was White not updating his registration when he moved into his new home in March 2010. However, when he physically travelled across town to his old polling location in May and signed his name and old address, is he saying he forgot that he no longer lived there?
The legal thing to do at that point would have been to not vote in the Primary. That's not the choice Mr. White made.
The Indiana Code states:
Voting in other precincts
Sec. 11. Except as provided by IC 3-10-10, IC 3-10-11, or IC 3-10-12, a person who knowingly votes or offers to vote in a precinct except the one in which the person is registered and resides commits a Class D felony.
What Will Daniels Do?
These disturbing facts have led Purvis to call for White to remove himself from the Secretary of State race and for an investigation into White's voter registration and vote irregularities. Yet, all those who yelled and railed about voter fraud in the lead up to the passage of the Indiana Voter ID law have been uncharacteristically silent on this issue - including Gov. Mitch Daniels who handpicked Charlie White and paved the way for his Republican nomination.
Will Gov. Daniels rescind his endorsement? If not, does he endorse the potentially felonious behavior of his chosen candidate? As someone who supported the Voter ID law specifically to root out alleged voter fraud, will Gov. Daniels support an investigation of White's actions based on the presented facts?
White is either incapable of understanding election law (even when he's drawn the local district lines himself as a Republican leader and town council member) or he's deliberately broken state election law by registering and casting votes from an address where he doesn't live - both in the primary election and votes as a council member for a district he didn't live in.
White should resign his candidacy and Gov Daniels should launch an immediate investigation into whether his handpicked candidate to oversee elections statewide has committed voter fraud. Any less would be an insult to the state of Indiana.
(Crossposted from my home blog, Bilerico Project. Come visit me there to see why both the Washington Post and the Advocate magazine named us one of the top 10 LGBT political blogs in the nation.)