The issue: The conviction of Indiana’s secretary of state.
Our view: Charlie White’s ouster from office should be permanent.
It might be a while before the dust settles in the fight over the Indiana secretary of state’s office.
When a jury convicted Charlie White on charges of vote fraud and perjury, Gov. Mitch Daniels responded by appointing White’s chief deputy as interim secretary of state. The governor said he held off making a permanent appointment because a judge might yet reduce the convictions to misdemeanors, thus making White eligible to return to office.
Democrats, meanwhile, are asking an appeals court to enforce a Marion County judge’s ruling that their candidate, Vop Osili, should be given the office because he was the only eligible candidate on the ballot.
It’s hard to say who should prevail in this fight.
The Democrats make a good argument, but then so do the Republicans, who point out that the voters overwhelmingly elected a Republican to the position. To put a Democrat in his place, they say, would effectively disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters.
White, quite frankly, deserves little sympathy in his plight. From the very beginning, he has done little but look out for himself. If he were concerned about the public interest, White would have resigned months ago.
Even as he stood convicted of fraud, White sought to deflect attention from his transgressions by casting aspersions on others, accusing Gov. Mitch Daniels and former Sen. Evan Bayh of voting illegally for years. White noted that Daniels had been using the address of the governor’s mansion even though it was common knowledge he actually lived in Carmel. White accused Bayh of continuing to vote in Indiana even though he lived in Washington.
White is correct in pointing out that determining an officeholder’s residence is not always simple. People who have multiple homes have some discretion in determining which to use as their legal address.
At some point, it comes down to intent. Did the officeholder do something that was intentionally misleading. In White’s case, a jury decided the answer was yes.
The whole sorry episode has made a mockery of the office White was elected to hold, and even if he succeeds in having his convictions reduced to misdemeanors, White should not return to that office.
He has no credibility to stand in judgment of those who might flaunt the state’s voting restrictions, and he has no business serving as the state’s chief election officer.