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Category: Indiana (page 2 of 3)

Voting at Gunpoint: Should Colorado Allow Firearms at Polling Places?

by Pamela Kalinowski

In July 2011, the Indiana state legislature passed a law that allows citizens to openly carry firearms at all polling places except for schools and courthouses. This law has been praised as a protective measure of a citizen’s right to bear arms and exercise self-defense. For many states, this kind of law would present enough difficult policy questions all on its own, but it raises
particularly charged issues for Colorado, a state that has found itself a consistent subject of both the election and gun debates.

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Two of the most deadly, high-profile shootings in U.S. history have occurred in Colorado–the Columbine and Aurora shootings, the most recent of which occurred this past summer–and have sparked renewed gun control debates. Even more recently, Colorado’s active Secretary of State, Scott Gessler, was involved in a controversialvoter purge” when his office “sent letters to nearly 4,000 people questioning their citizenship as part of a plan to have them voluntarily withdraw or confirm their eligibility to vote” (Huffington Post). Colorado democrats claimed that Secretary Gessler attempted to intimidate or disenfranchise voters, thousands of whom proved to be state citizens. With recent events concerning both gun control and voter intimidation, should Colorado adopt an Indiana-like law and guarantee citizens the right to openly carry firearms at polling places across the state, overriding any local laws that prohibit the practice? Continue reading

Indiana’s confusing record of voter registration

by Shanna Reulbach

Indiana’s recent history with voter registration is somewhat baffling, to say the least.  The state seems to swing like a pendulum between liberal and conservative measures and priorities, and compliance and defiance of federal mandates that extend the availability of registration materials to new populations.  An illustrative juxtaposition would be that the rhetoric of voter fraud is often at the forefront of Indiana election debates, yet the legislature authorized online voter registration in 2009, when many viewed the use of computer technology as enabling fraud.

The first subject that comes to any election law junkie’s mind in discussing Indiana’s election code is the state’s voter ID requirement and the U.S. Supreme Court’s upholding of the law in its 2008 decision, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board.  In that case, Indiana asserted a governmental interest in preventing voter fraud at the polls, pointing to its “unusually inflated list of registered voters” as a major source of concern.  While Crawford was not centered on voter registration, the state’s arguments reveal a lack of confidence in the voter registration process’ ability to prevent fraud.

Fast-forwarding to this past year, two other events mark the voter registration debate.  First, in March, a grand jury indicted Secretary of State Charlie White with three counts of voter fraud: “filing [a] fictitious registration,” “voting where not registered,” and “fraudulent registration.”  White was registered at his ex-wife’s home and voted in that district, even though he had moved away.  Ironically, the Secretary of State serves as the chief election officer.  The Indiana Recount Commission determined that White was eligible to run for that office, but he is still awaiting his criminal trial.  This scandal has shined a spotlight on registration issues, but fraud has not been the rallying point.  All of the parties involved with the accusations, White, his Democrat opponents, and the Commission, agree that registration residency requirements have to be liberalized to account for nontraditional living configurations. Continue reading

When is state law not enforceable?

Texas awaits DOJ approval for its new voter photo ID law.

by Daniel Carrico

The battle over Texas’s controversial new voter identification bill should be over. Instead, it appears to be heating up.

Senate Bill 14 amends the Texas Election Code, requiring voters to present an approved form of photo identification to cast a ballot in state elections. Voters may rely on most forms of commonly-used government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. Voters who are unwilling, or unable, to pay for identification are also covered; the bill creates a new form of identification called an “election identification certificate” which can be obtained at no cost from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Both the Texas House and Senate approved the bill and its photo identification requirements, following months of heated debate across the state. And, on May 27, Governor Rick Perry signed the bill into law. Notwithstanding any post-enactment court challenges, gubernatorial endorsement is the final step in the legislative process—or at least that’s how things usually work in Texas. Continue reading

IN (ballot access): How Indiana’s blank ballot law is depressing us all

by Patrick Genova

There is something cathartic about voting- walking into the booth, choosing the best candidate, and, of course, pinning yourself with the red, white, and blue badge of honor that proudly says, “I Voted.” And for that one day you can hold your head high at the water cooler next to the bigwig foreign investor who swung into town, and in one week got a date with the girl from accounts receivable that you’ve had the hots for. He’s so worldly isn’t he, but what does he know about civic pride? What does he know about the world’s greatest democratic pastime? Nothing.

New election laws in Indiana may take the spark at the water cooler out of some voters this November. The new law in the Hoosier State, which has the 48th lowest voter turnout, will take unopposed candidates off the ballot. The rationale for the change is that it saves paper, but, while Indiana trees rejoice, the new law leaves little reason for many voters to show up to the ballot box. A skeptic may say that in the case of unopposed candidates there was never a choice in the first place, but the effects of the law have less to do with the outcome of elections, and more to do with the fragile psyche of voters and their perceived notion of choice. Continue reading

Maryland & Indiana: A robocall showdown

How different states are handling political robocall controversies.

by Ashley Ward

What thought comes to mind upon hearing the word “Robocall”? For most, the thought conjures ideas of annoying telemarketing. However, for Democrats in the Baltimore and Prince George’s Counties, robocalls received on the 2010 election night added new thoughts to the definition: voter confusion and suppression. Before the polls closed for the 2010 Gubernatorial Race, residents received a call from an unnamed woman who said: “I’m calling to let everyone know that Governor O’Malley and President Obama have been successful. Our goals have been met…The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight. Congratulations and thank you.” Listen Here

The message seemed to imply that the Democratic candidate had already won the election and therefore the residents’ vote would be excessive and not needed. This implication was ill-gotten because there was no way to know at that time which candidate won. Many confused and upset residents contacted Gov. O’ Malley’s campaign center to complain.  Further investigation proved that the governor and his team had nothing to do with the calls. In fact, investigators determined that the members of the Republican candidate, former Gov. Eurlich’s team were responsible for the calls that have been considered by many to be a tactic to discourage the African American vote.
Continue reading

Mr. Colbert: or, How states might learn to love campaign finance reform

Its opponents deride its existence as a farce upon campaign finance law.  Its supporters suggest that it is the only way to set the system straight.  News of it has reached the public’s consciousness, rarified air for anything in the field of campaign finance. And we’re not even talking about Citizens United.

The Federal Election Commission’s recent decision permitting comedian Stephen Colbert to form his own Super PAC has successfully turned the media’s (and to a certain extent, the public’s) attention to the post-Citizens United world of political donations. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

Facebook sued over election results: Majed Moughni,a Michigan Republican who lost in the primary in 2010, is suing Facebook, claiming that he lost the election because his Facebook page was shut down. Moughni claims his page was shut down for criticizing one of his opponent’s views, but a Facebook spokesperson said it was because of suspicious behavior. Moughni had been adding 20-100 friends per day.

Kentucky judge gets 26 years for voter fraud:former federal magistrate judge in Kentucky was sentenced to 26 years in federal prison for heading a conspiracy to control politics in Eastern Kentucky. Prosecutors say that 8,000 people were paid $50 for their vote and 150 votes were stolen from the machines.

Charlie White saga continues: The Indiana Secretary of State’s office lost two staffers this week, as the chief spokesman and the deputy secretary of state both resigned in the wake of the allegations against Charlie White. White, who is charged with seven felony counts including voter fraud, is also being investigated for abuse of power–that he improperly accessed a document shortly after taking office containing evidence against him in the voter fraud indictment.

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Weekly Wrap Up

Secretary of State indicted for voter fraud: Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on three counts of voter fraud, among seven felony charges. Although the Governor and the former Secretary of State have called for White to step down, he has declined to do so.

Ohio wants to go high-tech: Ohio’s Secretary of State Jon Husted wants to create an online voter registration system, one of several changes advocated for in advance of the 2012 election. The system, which would require a valid driver’s license or state identification card, would also allow voters to update their address online as well, making the process more convenient.

Rutgers professor may have the last word on New Jersey redistricting: After the 10-member committee to redraw the map of New Jersey for state districts failed to meet their Thursday deadline, state Supreme Court Justice Stuart Rabner appointed an 11th tie-breaking member to the committee, Rutgers public policy professor Alan Rosenthal. Rosenthal was appointed after both parties recommended him.

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Weekly Wrap Up

Voter fraud by the Chief Election Official?: Charlie White, the Indiana Secretary of State, is being investigated by a grand jury to determine if he committed voter fraud during the May 2010 primary. White is accused of intentionally voting at the wrong precinct, a potential felony.

Misspellings can count: The Alaska Senate unanimously passed a bill on February 14 clarifying procedures for counting write-in ballots. The bill, a response to the highly-contested 2010 election of write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, allows votes that misspell the candidates name to count. The bill now moves to the Alaska House.

$2,500 recuses a judge: Elected judges in New York will no longer be allowed to hear cases where a lawyer or party has made contributions to his/her campaign in excess of $2,500 in the last two years. The decision, a new rule announced by the state’s chief judge, is designed to curtail the effects of money in judicial politics and will take effect after a 60-day comment period.

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The Tea Party and Voter Fraud

In anticipation of the impending midterm elections, officials from various Tea Party affiliated groups are concerned that Republicans are losing elections because of voter fraud. Dick Armey, former Republican Congressman, recently asserted that up to 3% of the votes Democrat’s received in 2008 was illegitimate.

Ignoring for a moment that most voting experts refute these claims, the debate is interesting for several reasons. First, it shows the ever-increasing role the Tea Party plays in the Republican Party, a dynamic certain to have a huge impact in November. This broad discussion, however, has been extensively covered by the national news media, so we don’t need to get into it now.

Second, it illustrates the importance of conducting fair and open elections. If these claims have any basis in fact, the implications would be staggering.  The 2008 election cycle fundamentally altered the direction of local, state and national politics, as Democrats dominated, even in traditionally Republican districts. If for some reason that move was illegitimate, it would change our view of the direction American politics. Perhaps that is what these claims are really all about – the Tea Party questioning whether 2008 was really an indication that the country moving to the political left. Continue reading

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