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Special judge: Keep early-voting sites open

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A special judge has ordered satellite early-voting sites in East Chicago, Gary, and Hammond to remain open over the objections of two Lake County Republicans.

Lake Superior Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider issued the order this afternoon in the consolidated cases of State of Indiana, ex rel. John B. Curley, et al. v. Lake County Board of Elections and Registration, and Hon. Thomas Philpot as Lake County Clerk, et al., No. 45D02-0810-PL-190, and United Steel Workers District 7, et al. v. Lake County Board of Elections and Registration, No. 45C01-0810-PL-256.

Republicans John Curley and Jim Brown challenged the opening of satellite early-voting offices in Lake County, citing potential voter fraud and the election board's lack of a unanimous decision in voting to open the sites. The United Steel Workers District 7 and other plaintiffs brought their suit to keep the locations open.

The Lake County Board of Elections and Registration was split 3-2 down party lines in their vote to open the satellite locations; the Democrats believed their majority vote allowed the locations to operate.

Indiana Code Section 3-11-10-26.3 requires a county election board to unanimously vote to establish satellite offices in the county, and under that statute, the location and operating hours must be included. The election board's order just included the location of the offices, not the hours of operation.

Despite these deficiencies in the Lake County Board of Elections and Registration's establishment of the satellite early-voting sites, Judge Schneider ruled to keep the sites open. She cited caselaw supporting that in the absence of fraud, election statutes are generally liberally construed to guarantee voters the opportunity to vote.

To stop early voting in Lake County on the basis of "an alleged technical irregularity" would contravene the purpose of election laws, wrote the judge, and the failure to establish these satellite early-voting locations could violate the U.S. Constitution by making it more difficult for some people of Lake County to cast their vote early.

Judge Schneider was appointed special judge in this consolidated case by the Indiana Supreme Court Oct. 16 after the parties failed to select a special judge by the prescribed deadline set by the high court.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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