Austin Mayor Doug Campbell pleaded guilty to misdemeanor electioneering in Scott Superior Court Tuesday morning under a plea deal stemming from allegations of voter fraud.The deal allows Campbell — who had originally been charged with three felonies — to avoid jail and stay in office. Under Indiana law, an elected official can be forced from office if convicted of a felony. Campbell was arrested last spring after an Indiana State Police investigation alleged he and city sanitation supervisor Terry Danner had tampered with absentee ballots before the May 2011 Democratic mayoral primary. Danner received pre-trial diversion Tuesday, allowing his prosecution on three felony voter fraud charges to be withheld if he completes 100 hours of community service in six months. Four voters said Campbell and Danner drove to their homes and picked up their ballots for mailing, according to court records. One woman said in a sworn affidavit that the mayor had filled in her incomplete ballot before taking it for her.
By law, no one except an election official or the person voting may handle a ballot. Electioneering or expressing support for a candidate is prohibited in the presence of a voter who has an absentee ballot.
Campbell was originally charged with three counts of voter fraud, which are felonies. But in court Tuesday morning, he pleaded guilty to the amended charge, which is a misdemeanor.
Court documents said Campbell had knowingly expressed support for his mayoral candidacy in the presence of a person who had an absentee ballot with his name on it.