Battle Over White’s Replacement Likely Headed To State Supreme Court

by Rick Howlett on February 6, 2012

The felony conviction of former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White has Democrats and Republicans going to battle over who should replace him if the judge upholds the verdicts.

White was found guilty last weekend of voter fraud and other counts related to his voter registration for the 2010 Republican primary, and was forced from office.

Prosecutors say White lied about his address in order to protect his council seat in the Fishers community.

White says he plans to ask the judge to reduce his convictions to misdemeanors at sentencing later this month, which would allow him to resume office.

IUPUI political science professor Brian Vargus says it’s unlikely the judge will grant the request, and the state Supreme Court will likely determine who holds the job next.

“The outcome of this is extremely difficult to predict because it is literally so complicated,” he said.

Democrats contend their candidate, Vop Osili, should be declared the winner of the election now because White was not eligible to be on the ballot. But Republicans say state law allows Governor Mitch Daniels to appoint White’s permanent replacement if the judge upholds the convictions.

Vargus says GOP leaders are anxious to put this episode behind them.

“He has become an embarrassment to the Republican Party, so no matter what happens, this particular incident is going to be brought up by Democrats in practically every election they can think of.”

White’s chief deputy is currently serving as interim secretary of state. Formal sentencing for White is scheduled for February 23. Each of the six convictions carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

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