Indy Update

July 30, 2019 (Indianapolis) Today’s Marion County Election Board appeals hearing over the protest filed by their city’s Independent Mayoral Candidate/Non-candidate, John Schmitz, did not end well for the candidate, who had sought approval of 1,115 petition signatures the Board had previously rejected over a technicality in Indiana state law.

“We were glad Board admitted the voters’ signatures accurately matched their voting records,” Schmitz said, “but they still threw them out because the petition address didn’t match their voter registration address.”

To qualify as an Independent Mayoral candidate, Schmitz needed the Board to accept just 654 of those 1,115 signatures and the signature-gathering period is closed.

Conflict Between the Law and the . . . Law

Indiana law (§ 3-8-6-6) requires nomination petitions to provide, “the residence address of each petitioner as set forth on the petitioner’s voter registration record,” but the actual petition form (IN State Form 49024) poorly reflects the law by only requiring the registered voter’s “residence address.”

That language comes from § 3-8-6-8, which says, “For a petition of nomination to be considered valid by the officer required to receive the petition, the county voter registration office in the county where the petitioner is registered must certify that each petitioner is a voter at the residence address listed in the petition at the time the petition is being processed.”

The simple fix for those voters who listed mismatched addresses is for the Election staff to treat the petitions as a trigger input and to mail the voters new registration cards, reflecting their newly reported addresses, which is exactly how they treat such voters who arrive at the polls to cast a vote.

In both cases, the voter is self-reporting a new address and may or may not provide any supporting documentation, so why do treat petitions differently?

(Screen capture from the petition form.)

The packed meeting was live-streamed via Facebook. They were not assuaged when Board members suggested Schmitz should take up his complaint with the Legislature.

“When these same election officials count votes, they do everything they can to preserve the persons right to vote,” he said. “Why don’t they practice the same approach in preserving those same voters’ right to sign a petition?”

He is weighing his legal options.