Fifteen months have passed since the polls closed in Indiana’s last secretary of state election. But the battle over who should hold the office is far from being finished. There have been political challenges and a lawsuit; a criminal trial and a conviction but still no definitive result. Simply put, it’s “a mess,” said one political expert. Charlie White, the elected officer, was convicted of six felony charges, including voter fraud, early Saturday morning, which removed him from office. But he could be reinstated on a technicality. Meanwhile, Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed White’s chief deputy, Jerry Bonnet, as to be his interim replacement. Democrats, however, claim they’ve won the office because of a Marion County judge’s ruling that has not yet been enforced.
They will ask the judge to enforce the ruling this week so their candidate, Vop Osili, can take office, said party chairman Dan Parker. That move likely would set up another legal battle. “This is a mess,” said Brian Vargus, a political science professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
It’s now up to the courts to try to make sense of it all, he said, and that could take time. “All this felony conviction does is make it a nastier sore (for Republicans),” Vargus said. “It is now bleeding again. We’re going to see whether or not the bleeding can be stopped.” Bonnet will fill in as secretary of state until White is reinstated or if White’s felony convictions stick, until Daniels or judge replace him.