Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Not Even Abdul Would Touch This One

When one reads a headline like this one, "Kennedy Campaign Staffer Violates State Election Law," you expect some big story about political intrigue or something really juicy.

Instead, Washington Street Politics, the blog that published that headline, provides a picture with a Melina Kennedy staffer wearing a sticker while early voting. Yep. That's apparently it. The offending picture is to the right. The offending blog post can be found here.

At least when Abdul puts something up, he makes it interesting. This perhaps isn't even a violation at all.

The state statute includes the word "knowingly" in it. Note section B of IC 3-14-3-16 below.

Sec. 16. (a) As used in this section, "electioneering" includes expressing support or opposition to any candidate or political party or expressing approval or disapproval of any public question in any manner that could reasonably be expected to convey that support or opposition to another individual. The term does not include expressing support or opposition to a candidate or a political party or expressing approval or disapproval of a public question in:
(1) material mailed to a voter; or
(2) a telephone or an electronic communication with a voter.
(b) A person who knowingly does any electioneering:
(1) on election day within:
(A) the polls; or
(B) the chute;
(2) within an area in the office of the circuit court clerk or a satellite office of the circuit court clerk established under IC 3-11-10-26.3 used by an absentee voter board to permit an individual to cast an absentee ballot; or
(3) except for a voter who is:
(A) the person's spouse;
(B) an incapacitated person (as defined in IC 29-3-1-7.5) for whom the person has been appointed the guardian (as defined in IC 29-3-1-6); or
(C) a member of the person's household;
in the presence of a voter whom the person knows possesses an absentee ballot provided to the voter in accordance with Indiana law;
commits a Class A misdemeanor.

Since the staffer had no doubt been across the street at the rally for early voting just minutes before, you could reasonably say that he might have forgotten to remove the sticker from his lapel. If you wanted to take this to court, you would certainly have to prove that he KNOWINGLY wore the sticker into the Clerk's Office.

That makes this one tough to enforce, I think. Anyway, I've already spent too much time on this non-story.

Is this the kind of campaign the Republicans are going to run at Melina Kennedy? Well, if it is, then it's going to be easier to get to the 25th floor for Melina than I thought.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Actually I don't think the sticker is a violation even if it were knowingly.

In definiting "electioneering" the General Assembly used the phrase "EXPRESSING support or opposition" to clarify what it was talkign about. The use of the term, "expressing" implies some sort of activity promoting (or opposing) a candidate such as talking to voters or passing out literature. The passive act of simply wearing a button or a campaign t-shirt probably wouldn't qualify as "expressing."

Bottom line is if the legislature intended electioneering to include wearing campaign buttons or candidate t-shirts when you're voting, they could have easily said that. Instead they chose the word "expressing" implying something more than wearing a shirt or button.

indyernie said...

Let me get this right. Kennedy's staff can enter a poling site with Kennedy buttons or stickers and that's OK, Beth White can enter early voting site shake hands with voters and ask for their votes because she is the Clerk and that's OK, Ed Treacy can enter polling sites and discuss voting with voters and that's OK, Why? Because they are all democrats?
If this same photo was of Ballard you all would be screaming bloody murder. You're all hypocrites!