INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's complicated, often
contradictory rules regarding registration for voters and political
candidates need to be simplified to avoid situations like the one that led
to last year's ouster of Secretary of State Charlie White, members of a
legislative panel and other officials said Thursday.
"In some cases, residency is almost a state of mind," said Rep. Peggy
Mayfield, a member of the Census Data Advisory Committee, which advises
the Indiana General Assembly on possible legislative issues.
Leslie Barnes, an attorney who works with the Secretary of State office's
election division, said residency standards and deadlines for voters and
candidates aren't the same. Rules governing how long people must live in a
precinct before they can vote there and whether candidates must live in
the district they want to represent also differ, she said.
Even the definition of residency varies from one regulation to another,
The issue of residency has surfaced in the careers of Indiana politicians
such as former governor and U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, former Sen. Richard
Lugar, and most explosively, White, who was forced to resign as secretary
of state after a jury found he registered to vote somewhere he didn't
Barnes said the state's rules should also better accommodate voters who
move from one precinct to another. She suggested same-day registration
might alleviate the problem.
Officials said disputes over residency requirements are often so
complicated they have to be settled in court.
Sen. Jim Arnold said voters are so confused by current registration rules
that they end up in "shoving matches" at the polls.
"Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a statute where we don't have to rely on
lawyers to tell us what they mean?" he asked.