Last month we reported on the seven felony counts charged against Indiana's newly elected GOP Secretary of State, Charlie White. Three of the charges are related to voter fraud by White, the chief election official in the state with the most draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions in the nation. (Indiana's law, approved by the Rightwing U.S. Supreme Court in 2008, has already resulted in unknown numbers of disenfranchised voters, including 90 year-old nuns, elderly veterans, and untold numbers of otherwise-legal student and minority voters --- the real target of such GOP voter suppression schemes disguised as "ballot integrity" laws.)
White represents just the latest in a series of high-profile Republican voter fraud cases --- including recent allegations against Utah's former governor, Jon Huntsman, a potential 2012 Presidential hopeful, and, of course, GOP voter fraud queen Ann Coulter --- most of whom have found some way to get off the hook entirely.
White was charged by a grand jury of, among other felonies, having been registered to vote at an address where he did not live in the town of Fishers, where he previously served (apparently illegally) on the town council, and then knowingly voting in the wrong place last November as he ran to be Sec. of State. White may, or may not, be as lucky as fellow GOP voter fraud scofflaws like Huntsman and Coulter, even as his friends on the State Republican Committee seem to be doing all they can to help him run out the clock in various ways, as revealed this week during new legal volleys in both the criminal and civil complaints against White...
While the criminal case against White moves forward, a civil case is being brought by state Democrats arguing that the Indiana Recount Commission is slow-walking the Democrats' challenge to White's eligibility to have been on the ballot at all last November, since he was illegally registered. Last December, the Commission dismissed the challenge entirely, though earlier this month the judge in the civil case ruled their complaint is valid, and ordered the Commission to move forward with it. The Democrats argue White's illegal voter registration made him ineligible to be on last year's ballot and therefore, they argue, Democratic candidate Vop Osili --- the highest vote-getter legally on the ballot --- ought to named to the post.
At the same time, White's attorneys are arguing that the criminal case should be resolved before the civil case --- or action against him by the Indiana Recount Commission --- can move forward at all.
Yesterday, Carrie Ritchie and Mary Beth Schneider, reporting for the Indianapolis Star, detailed the newest developments in the case this way:
On April 7, Marion Circuit Court Judge Louis F. Rosenberg ruled the Democrats’ challenge is valid and told the Recount Commission to move forward with it quickly.
Attorneys for the Democrats filed a motion today to urge Rosenberg to resolve the matter in his court or to set a schedule the commission must follow to resolve the complaint.
The Democrats claim the commission hasn’t moved quickly enough to set hearing dates and they also criticized State Republican Chairman Eric Holcomb for not appointing a commission member to replace White, who serves on the three-member commission but has recused himself from matters pertaining to his own case.
“It just looks like they are trying to run out the clock,” Democratic chairman Dan Parker said this afternoon.
In an order issued this afternoon [Monday], Rosenberg ordered Holcomb to appoint someone to replace White within two days. He also ordered Holcomb and Recount Commission Director Bradley Skolnik to appear in court Thursday to “show good cause, if any there be, why the Commission should not be held in contempt” for not moving quickly, as the judge had ordered.
Clearly feeling heat from the judge, as the Star's Ritchie reports in a follow-up today, Holcomb has finally taken action by naming Thomas Wheeler, former chairman of the Indiana Election Commission, to take White's seat on the panel.
Ritchie also offers one of the reasons why Republicans may be trying to run out the clock on this case:
We'll keep an out for the results of Thursday's hearings. Should be interesting.
In the meantime, Republican legislatures across the nation continue to push various Photo ID restrictions at the polling place, claiming an evidence-free epidemic of "voter fraud," despite the fact that some 20 million legal American voters (most of them Democratic-leaning) may well be disenfranchised by such laws, according to studies cited by the League of Women Voters.
That, despite the fact that, as seen in Minnesota this week, where such a law is being pushed by GOP officials under the guise of keeping felons from illegally voting, there is usually little or no fraud committed in elections by people attempting to impersonate someone else at the polling place. Most "voter fraud", what very little there is of it, is more often committed via absentee voting, which polling place Photo ID restrictions do nothing to protect against.
On the other hand, Election fraud, in the meantime, as committed by insiders who are able to change the results of entire elections with a few keystrokes on an electronic voting tabulator, remains a serious threat to democracy, as demonstrated by scientific study after scientific study. That problem, however, is one that Republicans (as well as Democrats) have shown little interest in combating.
UPDATE 4/26/11: Today's NYTimes aptly slams the new "Republican threat to voting," described as "the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights in a century." They describe "more than 30...states...joining the bandwagon of disenfranchisement, as Republicans outdo each other to propose bills with new voting barriers."