Controversy over replacement of state's chief election official kicks off; Epidemic of high-profile GOP voter fraud continues…
-By Brad Freidman
February 4, 2012– The chief election official in the very first state in the nation to implement polling place Photo ID restrictions — under the guise of preventing "voter fraud" — has been found guilty of three counts of felony voter fraud today.
In an early morning verdict following 12 hours of deliberation, a jury in Hamilton County found Indiana's Republican Secretary of State Charlie White guilty of three counts of voter fraud related to having voted in a precinct where he did not live and where he was illegally registered to vote. The Hoosier State's controversial first-in-the-nation Photo ID restrictions, originally implemented in 2008, did nothing to prevent either White's illegal registration or his unlawful vote for himself as Secretary of State in 2010 when he was elected to office.
Of the seven criminal felony counts White had been charged with in March of 2011, the jury also found him guilty of three other Class D felonies related to perjury and theft, while clearing him of one Class C felony for fraud on a financial institution.
White has vowed to appeal the decision in hopes of lowering the convictions to misdemeanor charges, rather than felonies.
Under Indiana law, a felony conviction makes White ineligible to serve in state office and would create a vacancy to be filled by Republican Governor Mitch Daniels. However, even if today's felony charges are upheld, the fight over who will replace White as Indiana's chief election official is likely to continue for some time, since a separate recent ruling against him in a related civil case could take precedence over today's verdict.
Republicans are hoping Daniels will be allowed to name White's replacement, even though a judge last December ordered White immediately removed from office and replaced by his Democratic opponent from the 2010 election, after determining that White had been illegally on the ballot in the first place thanks to his improper registration.
White's conviction is the latest in what is shaping up as spate of voter fraud convictions, allegations, and investigations of high profile GOP officials, including allegations against several of the party's 2012 Presidential candidates…
Over a weekend when the Super Bowl is set to kick off in Indianapolis, the embarrassing news comes as still another black eye for Indiana Republicans as well as for the GOP nationwide. The state party is already facing widespread blowback over recently-adopted anti-union legislation. Meanwhile, Republicans across the country have been attempting to implement polling place Photo ID restrictions, modeled on Indiana's 2008 measure, in advance of the 2012 Presidential election based on the specious claim that such restrictions are needed to curb "voter fraud".
White's voter fraud was due to his lying about his home address. He claimed to be living at his ex-wife's residence, which he also used to illegally serve as a member of the Fishers Town Council before becoming Secretary of State. In fact, he lived at a townhouse in a different area of town with his then girlfriend who he has since married.
Supporters of polling place Photo ID restriction measures, including those who passed the Indiana measure, have been unable to cite historic incidents of polling place voter impersonation — the only type of voter fraud that might be prevented by such laws — which would have been deterred by the draconian new polling place restrictions. White had no trouble committing voter fraud himself, even under the state's new law which has prevented otherwise eligible voters, such as elderly nuns, students and World War II veterans, from being able to cast their legal vote on Election Day.
Other legal voters in the Hoosier State who have voted for decades without incident, have since been forced to jump through remarkable hoops since passage of the law in order to cast their vote.
Today's ironic convictions of the Republican Secretary of State underscore both the hypocrisy of such laws and the fact that they have almost nothing to do with preventing actual voter fraud like White's, much as critics and democracy advocates have long maintained. Rather, critics charge — with a great deal of evidence to back them up — such laws are aimed solely at disenfranchising minority, elderly and student voters, all of whom tend to vote for Democrats, and all of whom are disproportionately more likely to lack the type of state-issued Photo ID required under the new GOP-supported laws recently implemented by Republican legislatures and governors in nearly a dozen states.