|Marion County Republican|
Chairman Kyle Walker
Republican slating in Marion County also allows for the participation of ward chairman and vice ward chairman, neither of whom have to live in the area they represent. Both positions are appointments of the county chair. While the number varies, wards are typically made up of six precincts.
The effect on slating of the appointments is substantial. At a county-wide slating, the county chairman would have as many as 450 appointed precinct committeemen, 100 ward chairman and 100 vice ward chairman for a total of 650. With only 150 precinct committeemen elected by GOP primary voters that means that going into a county-wide slating contest, the county chairman can control as much as 81.25% of the vote.
Of course, as elected PCs begin to resign as they often do before the end of their four year terms, the power of the county chairman increases with elected PCs replaced by appointed ones. However, there is no legal responsibility for the county chairman to notify the county clerk of the resignations of elected PCs so it is unclear how many of the 150 originally elected PCs remain.
Since PCs also elect the county chairman, the county chairman is essentially handpicking his or her own voters, or at least 3/4 of them.
This imbalance not only affects slating and the election of the county chairman, but also vacancy elections. Any precinct committeemen, elected or appointed, who has a precinct in the district where there is a vacancy can vote to fill that vacancy. Assuming the district needing a replacement representative is compatible to the county as a whole, 75% of those PCs eligible to vote in the vacancy election will be appointees of the county chairman.
My conversation with a former high ranking party official who used to be involved in the Marion County Republican party organization revealed that, decades ago, party officials worked to get elected PCs in 100% of the county. In the 2002 primary, there were 357 Republican PCs elected. A consolidation of precincts a few years ago which reduced the number from 914 to 600 should have resulted in significantly more precincts having elected PCs. Instead it resulted in less. As noted above, in the most recent election Republicans only elected 150 PCs.
Although the lack of elected Marion County Republican PCs result in county chairman domination of slating to the tune of 81.5%, it is actually even worse on the Democratic side as that party allows vice precinct committeemen, who are all appointees of the county chairman to participate in slating. If the Democrats have the same number of elected PCs as Republicans, that would mean at Democratic county-wide slatings in Marion County, the county chairman appoints up to 1250 (450 PCs, 600 VPCs, 100 WCs, and 100 VWCs) of the 1400 slating voters or 89.3%.
Bottom line is that anyone who thinks they can win slating in Marion County against the wishes of the Republican or Democratic chairman is on fool's errand. It's not that the vote might be rigged against the candidate who doesn't have the county chairman's blessing, it is that it is rigged before the candidates even file for slating.