Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was indicted on seven felony counts on Thursday, including charges of voter fraud. According to special prosecutors, Secretary White intentionally voted in the wrong precinct in the May 2010 primary. Secretary White admitted to the charge, but has said it was not on purpose.
Here is how it apparently all went down: after his 2007 divorce, Secretary White moved from the house he shared with his ex-wife. He moved into an apartment in the same precinct and updated his voter registration record. Around February 2009, he moved out of that apartment and back in with his wife. Later that year in November, Secretary White began to split time between his ex-wife’s house and a recently purchased condo outside the precinct. In February 2010, he changed his voter registration record to reflect his ex-wife’s address as he had not yet closed on his condo and was unsure when he would. Secretary White subsequently failed to update his voter registration record to reflect his own address and voted in the wrong district.
Secretary White blamed a hectic schedule for not updating his registration. Moving (coupled with running for state office, in this specific case) is indeed a stressful time, and many movers, unable to update their registration records in time to vote, are ultimately disenfranchised. In 2008–2009, over 36 million people moved in the United States, and a study by Harvard and Yale universities revealed that our registration system is failing these mobile voters. According to the survey, 12 percent of Florida voters and nearly 10 percent of Los Angeles County voters surveyed reported at least one significant error—such as name, birth date or address—in their record that could prevent them from casting a ballot.
If address changes were automated, permanent, and portable, eligible movers would have their voting records updated automatically, and not face rejection from the ballot box come Election Day. In Secretary White’s case, he would not have had to remember to change his address in the busy period between sale closing and the election. But, alas, Indiana has not modernized its voter registration system.