The crazy season, such as it is (this is no Chicago, after
all), in Indianapolis municipal politics is upon us.
Evidence of Election Day madness was on display at the
City-County Building on Monday when, during the first-in-recent-memory
emergency meeting of the Marion County Election Board, the normally lukewarm
relations between Democrats and Republicans turned downright icy.
"Serious issues have arisen," Marion County Clerk
Beth White told the press, public and various
political officials attending the meeting.
The GOP contingent in the audience and of the Election Board
could barely contain a sense of annoyed disdain. Several times throughout the
late-morning Nov. 7 meeting and then later in a press release, GOP Executive Director
Kyle Walker called the exercise a "dog-and-pony show."
Clerk White and Election Board Chair Mark Sullivan, both
Democrats, identified a problem encountered by a Democrat-leaning voter, who
received a "misleading (phone call that) ... contained incorrect
information." In essence, the voter, Matt Conner, who offered testimony
about his experience, received a call registered somewhere in California in
which the caller provided the incorrect polling location for his current
"I haven't voted there in four years," Conner testified.
The call did not originate from the Marion County Democratic
Party, the MCDP's executive director Adam Kirsch
testified. All MCDP calls originate from land and cell lines within the county,
"It appears there's an effort to create voter confusion
... or, worse yet, voter disenfranchisement," White said.
The Republicans took umbrage at the implication that their
organization was somehow responsible for such antics. The confusion, according
to the GOP release issued later in the day, rests on the Marion County Board of
"Upon moving to a new residence, Mr. Connor filed to
change his voters registration to his new address," the statement read.
"The Board of Voters Registration failed to change his registration
address, and instead registered him as a new voter at his new location. As a result, he is now registered twice
in Marion County.
"The polling location that the 'killer caller'
referenced is the correct location for his first registration (which is still
active).Therefore, it appears
that whomever is making calls on behalf of the Marion County Democrat Party is
simply working from an old list of registered voters."
But the GOP faced more challenges from the Democratic
At issue was the party's list of potential vote challengers,
party members potentially capable of watching polling locations to challenge
"a voter that is not a lawful voter of the precinct."
The list contained names of several elected officials and
their relatives. White questioned the validity of the list, which contained
more than 760 names.
Walker maintained that the list met the particular
requirements of the law, an assertion that Election Board Counsel Scott Chinn confirmed by letter, but not spirit.
Walker rejected the clerk's request that the list be re-issued to contain only
the names the party expected to credential as actual Election Day challengers.
The Democratic Party planned to submit no challengers.
Challenges are to be sent to Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry
and contain the names of the challenged, their addresses and their assigned
precinct. One on challenger per party is allowed per precinct.
"It's a concerning development that the Republicans
intent to send out an army to challenge our voters," White said.
As the polls wound to a close on Tuesday, no reports of
challenging incidents were registered.
The challenging lists and the problematic poll location
"assistance" were not the end of the Democrats' complaints. They also
raised issues with some of City Council President Ryan Vaughn's lawn signs that
did not include the required disclaimers. Also, said Director of Elections Tenley Drescher-Rhoades, a
Democrat, "it's come the board's attention Marion County Republican Party
sent a letter to poll workers ... "
The letter contained an accurate, but not final, list of absentee
voters. Since poll workers receive a final list on Election Day, White and Drescher-Rhoades said they'd been getting reports of
confused poll workers. The letter also contained incorrect instructions about
the jurisdiction of the Election Board to remove party-appointed poll workers.
"I've gotten calls every Election Day that Republicans
have been turned away (from their assigned polls," said Patrick J Dietrick, the Election Board's sole GOP representative.
"If that's an accurate statement, there action this
board can take," Sullivan replied.
Walker and Dietrick said they try
to handle such instances as they come up on Election Day.
White commented that the Republicans "massive voter
suppression effort" tactics, such as lining up voter challengers, could
have been redirected to staff election clerk and judging efforts or to get out
"This is the first emergency meeting I remember in the
six years I've served on this board," Dietrick
said. "This is a political act; not a legal act."