By Lesley Weidenbener
Franklin College Statehouse Bureau
INDIANAPOLIS – A Marion Circuit Court judge has ruled that Secretary of
State Charlie White, a Republican, was not eligible to be a candidate in
last year’s election, and therefore his Democratic opponent, Vop Osili
should be awarded the office.
Rosenburg said that White was not legally registered to vote at the time he
filed his candidacy and therefore was ineligible to be on the ballot. “The
fact that Mr. White knowingly registered in the wrong precinct is sufficient
to render him ineligible for the office of secretary of state,” the ruling
said. “Whether or not he believed that his registration complied with the
law is not relevant.”
The ruling by Judge Louis Rosenburg overturns a decision by the Indiana
Recount Commission but its not clear how soon – or even if – it will be
implemented. The Indiana Recount Commission, which is a part of the
secretary of state’s office, will appeal the ruling and seek an immediate
stay, which would delay implementation of the order, said A.J. Feeney-Ruiz,
a spokesman in the office.
He said recount commission officials were set to discuss the issue with the
attorney general, which has so far not been involved in the case. Rosenburg
sent the decision back to the recount commission for action. But Feeney-Ruiz
said that even if a stay is not granted, a meeting could not take place
before later next week.
That’s because the commission must give 48 hours notice of any meeting and
the state is officially closed for the holidays through Monday. Also, the
commission is not a standing group and its members are appointed only when
it’s called to action. The state Republican and Democratic parties as well
as the secretary of state make appointments to the three-member commission.
The Marion County ruling is the latest twist in a complex political and
legal battle that has been brewing since last year, when Democrats first
challenged White’s eligibility.
Democrats accused White of failing to live in the home that he listed as his
residence for voting. The recount commission ruled unanimously then that
White was eligible and Democrats appealed to the Marion Circuit Court.
Meanwhile, White is facing felony voter fraud charges and Republican leaders
– including Gov. Mitch Daniels – have urged him to step aside during the
“More than a year later, justice has finally been served,” Indiana
Democratic Chairman Dan Parker said in a statement Thursday. “We applaud
this ruling and congratulate Vop Osili as the rightful winner of the 2010
“As a result of his vote fraud, Charlie White was never eligible to be a
candidate for this office, and he’s done nothing but embarrass Hoosiers
since wrongfully assuming the position,” Parker said.
Despite the legal issues, White defeated Osili at the polls by about 345,000
votes. Osili recently was elected to a position on the Indianapolis
Neither White nor anyone from his campaign planned to comment on the ruling,