June 28, 2011 / 7:26 PM / 9 years ago

Indiana Secretary of State White allowed to stay in office

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An Indiana state panel voted on Tuesday to allow indicted Secretary of State Charlie White to remain in office, officials said.

The Indiana Recount Commission, made up of two Republicans and one Democrat, voted 3-0 in favor of White, a Republican.

Democrats had complained that White was illegally registered to vote last year. They said White had moved out of his ex-wife’s home, but was still registered to vote in his old precinct in order to keep his job on a town council.

The panel found it appeared White was in a transient situation at the time, and had not intended to abandon his former residence, said commission executive director Mark Palmer.

“I’m very humbled by the 3-0 decision,” said White, in a phone interview with Reuters. “I’m happy that they applied the facts to the case law and to the statutes.”

White said he was registered legally and voted legally.

White, who was elected last November, was charged in March with seven felonies, including voter fraud. His trial is set for August 8.

Indiana Democrats criticized the commission’s findings.

Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker said in a statement that White was allowed to remain in office because of a “loosely constructed” Indiana law that allowed him to live in several places and declare one as his residence as a matter of “political convenience.”

“That he might skate on a technicality doesn’t make the outcome of this process just or fair,” Parker said.

White would lose his office if convicted on the felony counts. He is charged with submitting a fraudulent voter registration application, intentionally voting outside of his precinct, perjury and fraud on a financial institution.

He also is charged with theft for continuing to collect pay as a Fishers town council member when he no longer lived in his old district. He has pleaded not guilty.

Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Jerry Norton

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