Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do Indiana Republicans Really Care About Voter Fraud?

Note: I wrote the following post with the intent of submitting it to The Indianapolis Star for the IN Touch blog. However, though I tried, I just couldn’t get it down to the length that they are looking for (150 – 250 words). And, in all honesty, I don’t think that it one of the better examples of my writing, but the subject matter is a bit time sensitive and I just don’t have the time right now to keep working on this text. So, I added a few additional thoughts and posted what I’ve written here.

Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly have worked hard to address the threat of in person voter fraud notwithstanding the fact that Indiana had no known cases of actual in person voter fraud. Indiana was so concerned with the issue that we litigated the right to disenfranchise voters all the way to both the United States and Indiana Supreme Courts.

Yet now that Indiana is faced with an actual case of voter fraud on the part of Charlie White, the Republican candidate for Secretary of State — office charged with overseeing Indiana’s elections — most Republicans have remained silent on the issue or put the fraud off to simple mistake. Why is it that they are so vigorous about stopping nonexistent in person voter fraud (and keeping nuns and the poor from voting) and practically silent when one of their own is caught perpetrating an actual fraud? And are we to trust the current Secretary of State, Republican Todd Rokita — who was apparently involved in choosing White to run for the office and who was also apparently a college classmate of White — to conduct the investigation into White’s conduct?

Two other points are worth mentioning. I agree with Matt Tully that the notion of an elected politician not knowing the boundaries of his district is simply implausible (virtually every politician that I’ve met can recite the precise borders of his or her district); moreover, even if plausible, what does that say about the White’s qualifications to be in charge of Indiana’s election laws.

Even more troubling though, is the focus on White’s excuse (oops, I forgot or didn’t have enough time) without really examining the fact that he engaged in actual, affirmative action to conceal that he’d moved out of his district. If he’d simply forgotten to update his registration address, we might give him the benefit of the doubt. But that’s not what happened. Instead, when White moved, rather than changing his registration address to his new address (and thereby becoming ineligible), he changed his address to his ex-wife’s address, where he had not lived for several years. Why did he change his registration to her address rather than his new address? Could it be that he wanted to conceal that his new condo was not within his district? Why else would a politician take the time to lie about where they live? Are we expected to believe that when he changed his registration address he forgot about where he really lived?

Do we really want a Secretary of State who is willing to commit fraud just to stay on a town council? And why, if Republicans are so concerned with voter fraud, aren’t they clamoring for an investigation and prosecution or calling for White to be removed from the ballot? I wonder if it might have something to do with the fact that “major party” status and access to the ballot in Indiana is premised upon votes garnered in the race for Secretary of State.

Oh, one more thought: I suspect that Charlie White could be found guilty and he’d still win the election in November. Hell, he’d probably win from a jail cell. Why? His opponent is an African American named Vop Osili. Hopefully, Hoosiers will take the time to learn about Vop (hint, try visiting his website) and make their choice on the basis of issues and qualifications (not to mention character and fitness for the office). But I’m afraid that Charlie White will beat Vop Osili for the same reasons that Tim Crawford beat Dr. Nasser Hanna in the Democratic primary back in May.

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