|Mark Sullivan, Chairman|
of the Election Board
In the past, the Marion County Board of Voter Registration provided voter registration files upon request. In 2010, I was able to get an electronic voter file for Pike Township emailed to me within a couple days.
The opportunities for political shenanigans are apparent though when you look at the make up of the Board. The Board of Voter Registration consists of two members, Susan Mowery appointed by the Republican county chairman and Ladonna Freeman appointed by the Democratic chairman. They serve at the pleasure of their respective county chairmen and do their bidding.
|Patrick J. Dietrick,|
Election Board Member
Eventually though they decided on a strategy. Indiana law carves out an exception to the open records law that allows the county election board to decide which electronic voter registration information to release pursuant to a non-discrimination policy. The purpose behind the law is to ensure that some candidates are not getting information that is denied to other candidates. That is, of course, exactly what's going on today in Marion County
Today's hearing of the Election Board was to adopt a non-discrimination policy so the data can be released. The hearing came following a second opinion of the State Public Access Counselor which said that a county can't get around the law by simply not adopting a policy.
|Marion County Clerk Beth White|
Even that opinion has it wrong. Bowes today argued that if an Election Board doesn't adopt a policy to carve out an exception from the general open records law, then the general open records law applies and a county can't prohibit the release of any voter registration data that is public record. His legal analysis is right on the money. Still the opinions of the PACs make clear that a county cannot choose to not adopt a policy in order to avoid the release of the data to candidates.
Yet that is exactly what the Election Board did today by a 2-1 vote. Marion County Clerk Beth White argued passionately that the voter registration file needs to be made available to candidates in a non-discriminatory fashion and said the Board cannot refuse to exercise its responsibility to adopt a policy. However, Republican board member P.J. Dietrick and Democratic board chairman Mark Sullivan disagreed. Dietrick inaccurately suggested that fulfilling the requests for electronic voter information could lead to the disclosure of confidential information. (It never has before.), Sullivan meanwhile feigned not having time to read and study the PAC opinion which he claimed to only have received at the meeting. (In fact, Clerk White said she had previously emailed Sullivan a copy of the opinion as did Bowes.) Sullivan wants time to review the law. I'm sure that his review of the law will last until at least early May, which will make the information useless to the candidates challenging the slate in the primary. It's just a big game to Dietrick and Sullivan. They do not care one bit that they're violating Indiana law. They know if they at least delay release of the data until it's too late to do anything with it, the slated candidates will have a huge edge over the unslated candidates.
Just when you think Marion County politics is as corrupt as it comes, it gets worse. The county chairman, with their power on the wane and slating being challenged on all fronts, are pulling ever dirty trick in the book to remain in control of picking the candidates. Stay tuned. If the Board of Voter Registration and Election Board does not comply with the law very soon, a lawsuit is almost a certainty.