Email to IN GOP County Chairs on Changed Election Law
Thank you to all Chairmen or Vice Chairmen who responded to my email on the changed law that states if a candidate is unopposed in a municipal election their name will not be on the ballot in the General Election this year. I have more clarity on the issue because of your responses.
On the surface, it appears like a fiscally responsible law that will save taxpayers money. I had many emails stating what could be wrong with saving money. After all, we are the party of fiscal conservatism.
Others of you stated it was a good law because it wouldn’t print the names of some of the democratic candidates on the ballot. I would imagine you feel this way because you do not want to give them more name recognition. I say shame on me if I cannot field a Republican to challenge our democratic elected officials. Believe me we have a majority of democratic elected officials in Lake County. There are however, just a few uncontested democratic races in East Chicago, Whiting and Hobart where we couldn’t find a Republican to challenge, and in East Chicago there is a Republican Mayor on the ballot so even though there aren’t any Republican Councilmen running, an election would have to be held city wide for mayor. So how much money would really be saved ends up being a drop in the bucket in my opinion compared to what we give up. I have 72 candidates this election cycle (out of about 100) and we have 65 total Republican elected officials in all of Lake County with well over 500 precincts just to give you an idea of what our budget is for elections.
The last and what I believe is the most important email I received came in the form of a question. It asked very simply, “How can anyone be elected if they don’t get any votes?” I think this is why I questioned this change in law in the first place, but just couldn’t put my finger on it. Wayne County Republicans and Democrats have together filed a lawsuit against their Clerk, the SEC, and the SOS to allow all candidates to have their name printed on the ballot this fall. I had one chairman get extremely mad at my email and told me I would put a “black eye” on the Republican party if I didn’t follow this law by placing all candidates on the ballot.
But do we, as a Party, not have an obligation to uphold the most important right of every citizen of this great nation and that is our right to cast a ballot and vote for our elected officials? Many Americans have fought and died for this right. Are we not taking that right away if we allow this change in law to remain unchallenged?
I was also sent information by our Republican attorney for the Board of Elections that this change in law is in direct conflict to the Indiana State Constitution. So I took the liberty to actually read the State Constitution for myself (I'm a nurse not a lawyer) and this is what I found:
Section 13. All elections by the People shall be by ballot; and all elections by the General Assembly, or by either branch thereof, shall be viva voce.
Section 22. The General Assembly shall not pass local or special laws: Providing for the punishment of crimes and misdemeanors;
Regulating the practice in courts of justice;
Providing for changing the venue in civil and criminal cases;
Changing the names of persons;
Providing for laying out, opening, and working on, highways, and for the election or appointment of supervisors;
Vacating roads, town plats, streets, alleys, and public squares;
Summoning and empaneling grand and petit juries, and providing for their compensation;
Regulating county and township business;
Regulating the election of county and township officers and their compensation;
Providing for the assessment and collection of taxes for State, county, township, or road purposes;
Providing for the support of common schools, or the preservation of school funds;
Relating to fees or salaries, except that the laws may be so made as to grade the compensation of officers in proportion to the population and the necessary services required;
Relating to interest on money;
Providing for opening and conducting elections of State, county, or township officers, and designating the places of voting;
As the Constitution states that elections shall be by ballot, how can we not place all candidates on the ballot? It doesn’t say all elections shall be by ballot unless someone is unopposed. And in Article 2 section 22 it states clearly that the GA shall not pass special laws governing the conducting of local elections.
So here lies the dilemma that we are facing. Do we uphold the change in law and not place all candidates on the ballot or do we uphold the Constitution which states elections shall be by ballot? Hopefully the Wayne County lawsuit will clear up this problem.
As we all complain that it is good to keep democrats off the ballot, I complain that it is also keeping republicans off the ballot. In Lake County we have 4 Republicans in Crown Point who are unopposed. We also have a democratic mayor in Crown Point running against a Republican. If the people find out their councilman will not be on the ballot they may decide to stay home on November 8th. This would be a great disadvantage to Republicans who are trying to take back the mayor’s seat in this city.
I apologize to those of you who are also in the GA who emailed me the question as to why was this brought up now and not before the vote. If I had known about it before it appeared in our local paper in the middle of July, I would have questioned it then. I also apologize for the length of the email, but I believe it is an important issue facing us in the next week as we prepare to print our ballots.
Thank you for your thoughts and for reading this missive. If anyone has any further thoughts on this issue, I would be happy to read them.
Have a great rest of the holiday weekend.
Lake County GOP Chair
Enjoy your Labor Day Holiday!