Monroe County’s election board could eventually wind up conducting an investigation of unlawful electioneering by a voter at the early in-person polls.
The voter has been described as wearing a COVID-19 mask with a candidate’s name printed on it, inside the polling location at Election Central, while voting was taking place. The voter, who was allowed to cast a ballot, refused to swap to a different mask or turn his own inside out.
That appears to be a violation of Indiana’s state election law, which says that electioneering is not allowed inside a polling place.
The definition of electioneering includes “expressing support or opposition to any candidate” and “wearing or displaying an article of clothing, sign, button, or placard that states the name of any political party or includes the name, picture, photograph, or other likeness of any currently elected federal, state, county, or local official.” [IC 3-14-3-16]
It was an election worker who gave the county election board a report on the matter at its Monday morning meeting, which was held to square away any remaining issues before Election Day.
Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the voter could wind up charged with committing a Class A misdemeanor, according to Matthew Kochevar, who is co-general counsel for the Indiana Election Division.
The punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
To get to an outcome involving jail time and a fine, the county election board could investigate the electioneering allegation at a public meeting of the board under[ IC 3-6-5-31], Kochevar wrote in an emailed message to The Square Beacon. The election board could then vote to forward the matter to the county prosecutor under [IC 3-6-5-32], as a violation of the electioneering statute, Kochevar said.
According to a statement issued by Monroe County election board member Carolyn VandeWiele late Monday, she spoke to the Monroe County prosecutor’s office and confirmed: “They will prosecute any offenses that we bring before them.” Continue reading “Monroe County election board mulls investigation of unlawful electioneering at polls by voter wearing COVID-19 mask with candidate’s name”