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COA: Keep early-voting sites open

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The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a special judge's ruling to keep early-voting sites open in Lake County, holding that even if election law was violated in establishing the sites, public interest in having the sites would keep them open.

A three-judge appellate panel met an issue of first impression in interpreting Indiana Code Sections 3-11-10-26 and -26.3 in John B. Curley, et al. v. Lake County Board of Elections and Registration, et al., No. 45A03-0810-CV-512. Plaintiffs John Curley and Jim Brown appealed Lake Superior Court Special Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider's ruling to enforce a preliminary injunction keeping open satellite early-voting offices in East Chicago, Gary, and Hammond.

The appellate court focused on two questions of law: whether in-person absentee voting locations at the Circuit Court Clerk's offices are "satellite offices" under I.C. Sections 3-11-10-26 and -26.3; and whether I.C. Section 3-11-10-26(a)(1) requires the election board to hold in-person absentee voting only in the election board's office.

The appellate court held the early-voting locations in the offices of the Circuit Clerk in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago aren't considered satellite offices, so they aren't required to be open by a unanimous vote of the election board, wrote Judge Edward Najam. According to the way the statute is written, a satellite office is any office other than the office of the Circuit Court Clerk or the office of the election board. Since in Lake County, the Circuit Court Clerk has offices in each of the four courthouses, Section 26 provides for absentee voting in all of the offices maintained by the clerk of the Circuit Court, wrote the judge.

The Court of Appeals found some ambiguity between I.C. Section 3-6-5.2-6 and Section 3-11-10-26(a)(1), and wrote they are subject to more than one reasonable and plausible interpretation. The appellate court concluded the election board reasonably interpreted Section 26(a)(1) when it designated the office of the Circuit Court Clerk as a location for in-person absentee voting, wrote Judge Najam.

But even if the plaintiffs could show the election board clearly violated the law, public interest "weighs heavily on the side of" the election board's decision and the preliminary injunction keeping the offices open, wrote the judge, citing Indiana Supreme Court precedent on election law.

The appellate court remanded the case to the trial court. Judge Najam wrote in a footnote that they've declined to order entry of final judgment and believe the course is for the parties to present their arguments to the trial court for it to enter final judgment interpreting the relevant statutes.

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  1. Welcome to Hendricks County where local and state statutes (especially Indiana Class C misdemeanors) are given a higher consideration than Federal statues and active duty military call-ups.

  2. If real money was spent on this study, what a shame. And if some air-head professor tries to use this to advance a career, pity the poor student. I am approaching a time that i (and others around me) should be vigilant. I don't think I'm anywhere near there yet, but seeing the subject I was looking forward to something I might use to look for some benchmarks. When finally finding my way to the hidden questionnaire all I could say to myself was...what a joke. Those are open and obvious signs of any impaired lawyer (or non-lawyer, for that matter), And if one needs a checklist to discern those tell-tale signs of impairment at any age, one shouldn't be practicing law. Another reason I don't regret dropping my ABA membership some number of years ago.

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  5. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

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