Ind. Supreme Court Rules On Sec. of State Case
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – A Republican will remain as the Indiana Secretary of State instead of the Democrat who finished second in the election, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The justices ruled unanimously that Charlie White was eligible to run for the office in 2010, when he defeated Democrat Vop Osili by 300,000 votes.
Democrats had filed suit last year arguing that White, a former Fishers town councilman, was ineligible because he had registered to vote at his ex-wife’s address in one town council district instead of the townhome he was actually living in outside the district.
White was convicted on six felonies, including Voter Fraud, in February in a Hamilton County, Indiana court. The conviction forced him to be removed from office.
Following White’s removal, Governor Mitch Daniels appointed chief deputy Secretary of State Jerry Bonnet as the interim replacement.
Democrats fought for Osili to take the office. A Marion County judge ruled in their favor, but withheld enforcing his ruling until the Indiana Supreme Court could rule. Justices heard oral arguments March 1 and dwelled on a decision until Thursday.
“It is likely that the average voter was aware that there were concerns about White‘s voter registration history at the time of the election, but we will not, on the basis of the present petition, judicially disenfranchise voters who went to the polls aware of what were at that moment only allegations,” the justices said in their opinion.
Daniels will be allowed to appoint a permanent successor thanks to the ruling.
“We appreciate the court’s swift action and clarification of the law. Now that the duty to select a new Secretary of State is certain, we’ll do so with promptness,” Daniels reacted to the decision.
Indiana Democrat Party Chairman Dan Parker said although the party maintains White was an illegitimate candidate, they will respects the court’s decision.
“It’s unfortunate that instead of having someone in that office who stood before Indiana voters for an election, Hoosiers are going to have a Secretary of State appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels,” Parker said. “We hope that person respects the integrity of the office and the elections process and will work with both parties to make sure that every Hoosier with the ability to vote can do so in a fair and open manner.”
Indiana Republican chair Eric Halcomb accused Democrats of attempting judicial activism to overturn the election results.
“Now that this year-long ordeal is finally behind us, Indiana can confidently move forward,” said Halcomb.