Whitaker to replace Carr on Cloverdale recount commission

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

One person on the three-member Cloverdale recount commission has been replaced.

On Tuesday, Putnam Circuit Court Judge Matthew Headley issued an order placing Vivian Whitaker on the commission, replacing Monnie Carr as the Democratic representative on the board.

Whitaker joins Republican Barb Jay and Putnam County Deputy Clerk Heather Robinson on the commission.

The three women are charged with conducting a recount of the Cloverdale clerk-treasurer race, which featured incumbent Republican Cheryl Galloway edging independent challenger Vanessa Carr by just two votes, 143-141.

Vanessa Carr filed a suit Nov. 19 in Putnam Circuit Court requesting a recount.

By law, it fell to Judge Headley to appoint a recount commission to be composed of a Republican and Democrat from the district in question and a person who can run the polling and tabulation equipment utilized in the recount process.

The party representatives were chosen based on recommendations from their respective party chairmen, while Robinson was recommended by Clerk Heather Gilbert.

The appointment of Monnie Carr to the commission raised some eyebrows, as he is petitioner Vanessa Carr’s husband. However, the appointment was deemed to be legal on these grounds and his removal from the commission was for other reasons.

It turns out that Monnie Carr has not previously voted in a primary election in Putnam County, either as a Democrat or a Republican. When his appointment to the commission was challenged, the court had no way of establishing his political party.

Instead, Whitaker, who is also the current president of the Cloverdale School Board, will be the third member of the commission.

No date has been set for the recount, though Robinson plans to reach out to Jay and Whitaker soon.

By state election law, the recount should be completed by Dec. 20. This may be extended by the court for “good cause shown.” It is unclear if this hiccup in the appointment process qualifies as “good cause” under this rather oblique wording.

However, more than two weeks still remain to schedule the recount, which itself should be a rather short process.

Once a recount is completed, Gilbert must file a certificate of recount, with any corrected vote totals noted.

After the recount certificate is filed, the court enters its final order discharging the recount commission. A 30-day period to appeal the recount commission’s certificate begins when the trial court issues this order.

The next term for the Cloverdale clerk-treasurer begins on Wednesday, Jan. 1.

County officials are unsure of how many recounts have taken place in county history. However, Voter Registration Clerk Stacia Hathaway files of two previous recounts, both involving Cloverdale municipal elections.

One was the 2003 town council race, in which four candidates for town council seats filed suit, alleging that eligible voters were not permitted to cast their ballots, while some ineligible voters were allowed.

None of the four losing candidates in 2003 — Phyllis Gaddis, David Brinkman, Cathleen Monaco and Francis Sweeney — had the result overturned.

The other is from 1983, a race in which David Hayes narrowly defeated Diana Brumfield for the Second Ward council position. Lewis Bales finished third in that race.

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  • And so it continues. Hollywood brought us "As the World Turns", "Peyton Place", and "Keeping Up With The Kardashians". Live, from Cloverdale, Indiana; "Counting With The Carrs". Stay tuned, it can only get better from here!!!

    -- Posted by FactswithoutBS on Tue, Dec 3, 2019, at 8:31 PM
  • *

    This is nonsense. Headley is just wrong.

    There was no reason to vacate Mr. Carr from the recount commission so long as he was a REGISTERED VOTER. It doesn't matter what party he belongs to or what party primary he voted or didn't vote. The Democrat party chose him as their representative on the recount commission. So long as he is a registered voter, its on the Democrats if that is the guy they want.

    This is simply more judicial activism and over-reach by the kangaroo court system of Putnam County.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Wed, Dec 4, 2019, at 8:55 AM
  • This doesn't look for the judge unless someone clears up the law for naming members of the recount commission. Dread, how about it?

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Thu, Dec 5, 2019, at 9:10 AM
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    Indiana Law (paraphrased):

    IC 3-12-6-16

    The recount commission must consist of two people who are members of different major political parties AND qualified to vote in the election in question.

    The recount commission must include one competent mechanic (someone who knows how to run the machine) AND does NOT need to be qualified to vote in the election in question.

    Now, I wasn't there for the appointment meeting but the way the article reads - each major party involved in this recount (Republicans and Democrats) put forward their chosen person.

    That one party put forward the spouse of the contestant as their representative on the recount commission is not illegal (as reported).

    So here are some questions:

    Why did Judge Headley legally appoint this person, only to rescind the appointment upon a questionable objection to their appointment? Is it legal to rescind a commission announced?

    Who made the objection and on what grounds? From my reading of statute, there is no mechanism for objection of a named commissioner.

    And it would be rather silly for the party of Mrs Carr to put forward Mr Carr if the party had any reason to believe that he was not of the same political party.

    So if Mr. Carr simply swears/affirms/takes an oath that he is indeed a member of party "x" and this party doesn't object to his self-identification as a member of party "x" which I assume they wouldn't in this case - why is the judge changing his original appointment based on (presumably) his own parties challenge to the appointment?

    Primaries are PARTY elections, and many people choose not to vote in their chosen party primaries...this doesn't preclude them from self-identifying as members of that party.

    Not only this, but in Indiana primary elections are open elections. This means that if you are a member of party "x" but you already know who is going to win your nomination, it is legal (although shady) to vote in the primary of party "y". (This is but a small part of the problem with Indiana elections and party politics, but that is for another time.)

    So, even if they ascertain what ballot Mr. Carr pulled (or didn't pull) in a PARTY PRIMARY, it does not give any more proof of party membership than his own affirmation and acceptance by the party to which he claims membership.

    Further consider: I believe the Libertarian Party qualifies as a Major party, but I'm not 100% positive. And if so, the Libertarian Party does not do primary elections so there would be no record of Mr. Carr's voting in the primary to "prove" his membership. However, his swearing/affirming that he is a member of the Libertarian Party should/would qualify him as a member of the Recount Commission.

    Is what Headley did legal? Perhaps. But perhaps not. That will be for the lawyers decide, should someone challenge these shenanigans.

    But it certainly doesn't look good on the judge.

    As an aside - both sides of the recount are allowed to be present for the recount as well as have watchers present on their behalf... so the odds of odious behaviour by either side are theoretically pretty slim regardless of who is on the recount commission.

    So whoever objected to Mr. Carr's appointment to the commission comes across as a petty partisan as well.

    (This is why I say a pox upon both Republicans and Democrats... Constitution party member here. It's in our name!)

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Fri, Dec 6, 2019, at 10:00 AM
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