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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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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