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Absentee ballots challenged in Marion County

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Republicans in Indiana are challenging early votes again, only this time Marion County absentee ballots are being questioned.

Raymond J. Schoettle, Erica Pugh, and the Marion County Republican Party have filed a complaint in Circuit Court against the Marion County Election Board for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to require the election board to follow Indiana statutes when handling challenged absentee ballots. The plaintiffs also are seeking declaratory judgment ordering absentee ballots cast pursuant to Indiana statute. A hearing was conducted this morning in Marion Circuit Judge Theodore Sosin's courtroom.

In Raymond J. Schoettle, Erica Pugh, and Marion County Republican Party v. Marion County Election Board, No. 49C01-0810-PL-049131, the plaintiffs write in their complaint they are bringing this action to protect the integrity of all forms of absentee balloting in Marion County.

The plaintiffs claim the Marion County Election Board stopped following statutes regarding challenged absentee ballots - whether done through the mail or in person - after the special election in March 2008 to elect the replacement for Congresswoman Julia Carson, who passed away in December. Instead of processing the challenged ballots as provisional ballots and keeping them separate, the suit claims the ballots are immediately put through the machines, creating a risk that fraudulent ballots are being counted.

The suit also claims the election board hasn't issued specific instructions to its precinct election boards regarding challenges to absentee ballots and instructed the precincts to count all absentee ballots.

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