Saturday, February 4, 2012

Indiana Election Chief Found Guilty Of Voter Fraud

Indiana’s Republican Secretary of State Charlie White could lose his freedom after jurors convicted him of multiple voter fraud-related charges on Saturday, leaving in flux the fate of one of the state’s most powerful positions. According AP and Politico, a Hamilton County jury found White, Indiana's top elections official, guilty of six of seven felony charges, including false voter registration, voting in another precinct, submitting a false ballot, theft and two counts of perjury.

Indiana was the first state to implement a strict photo ID requirement at the polls, where only narrow forms of government-issued photographic identification are acceptable to vote. The law is narrowly focused on in-person voting voter impersonation fraud. Texas passed nearly identical photo ID legislation (Senate Bill 14) in 2011.

On December 23, 2011, the U.S. Justice Department blocked South Carolina's new voter ID law, which like Texas' voter photo ID law was modeled on Indiana's strict voter photo ID law. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department or a federal court is required to pre-clear laws affecting voters in jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination, including Texas and South Carolina.

The Texas Secretary of State’s Office sought preclearance from the Justice Department on July 25, 2011, but the agency is still holding the matter under review. On January 23, 2012 Texas Attorney General filed suit against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to have the state’s controversial voter photo ID law implemented without further delay.

After a five-year effort to find whether "voter fraud" was a systemic problem, the United States Department of Justice under Pres Bush in 2007 declared that it found virtually no evidence of any organized voter impersonation fraud. The small number of people that were charged by DOJ mostly misunderstood eligibility rules, mistakenly filled out registration forms, or committed the type of voter fraud committed by Indiana’s Republican SOS Charlie White.

The term voter fraud is used to describe any number of improprieties at the ballot box, including voter impersonation, double voting, mistakenly completing registration forms, or voting without proper eligibility. As White's conviction shows, voter fraud is already a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison. Indiana's strict voter photo ID law did not address or prevent the the type of voter fraud committed by Indiana’s Republican Secretary of State Charlie White.

Background on this story at Bradblog

Additional coverage:

IndyStar: “Shortly after White’s verdict was read, Gov. Mitch Daniels announced in a news release shortly before 3 a.m. that he has appointed Jerry Bonnet, White’s chief deputy, as interim secretary of state.’I have chosen not to make a permanent appointment today out of respect for the judge’s authority to lessen the verdict to a misdemeanor and reinstate the elected office holder,’ the Republican governor said in the news release. ‘If the felony convictions are not altered, I anticipate making a permanent appointment quickly.’”

More coverage @ Indiana Law Blog

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