« Ind. Decisions - Upcoming oral arguments this week and next | Main | Ind. Courts - Four "commercial court" cases already have been docketed in Judge Welch's Marion Superior Court »

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - "East Chicago House candidate survives residency challenge"

Dan Carden reported last week in the NWI Times:

INDIANAPOLIS — Earl Harris Jr. will remain a candidate on the November general election ballot seeking to represent portions of East Chicago and Gary in the Indiana House.

On Wednesday, the Indiana Election Commission rejected an eligibility challenge that claimed Harris is not a legitimate resident of House District 2. It was filed by Rosa Maria Rodriguez, who was runner-up to Harris in the May Democratic primary.

The outcome wasn't even close to uncertain as the two Republican and two Democratic election commissioners easily agreed, following an hour of testimony, that Harris met the state's legal standard for candidate residency.

Specifically, Harris expressed intent to live at his mother's East Chicago home beginning in March 2015, and took action to carry out that intent, such as living in the house, moving property into the house and changing his voter registration, bank records, insurance and other official documents to reflect his new address.

"There's nothing before us, I think no valid evidence, that gives question as to what he has stated his intent was," said Commissioner Suzannah Wilson Overholt, a Democrat.

Rodriguez argued that Harris should be removed from the ballot because Harris owns an Indianapolis house for which he received a 2015 homestead property tax credit, which only is available for a person's primary dwelling.

"How is it that Earl Harris now lives ... in East Chicago and still takes a homestead credit for his true residence in Indianapolis?" Rodriguez said. "Voter fraud? Tax code violation? Or both?"

Guided by attorney Scott Chinn, Harris explained that he moved from Indianapolis to East Chicago to live with his mother, state Rep. Donna Harris, following the March 23, 2015, death of his father, longtime state Rep. Earl Harris Sr.

Harris said he simply forgot about telling the Marion County auditor to remove the homestead credit while grieving his father's death, and later amid moving, helping with his mother's health issues, relocating his video production business and campaigning for state representative.

"With everything that was going on ... it slipped through the cracks," Harris said.

Harris testified that he recently contacted the county auditor to take off the homestead credit and take care of any unpaid taxes, since he intends East Chicago to be his permanent residence.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 20, 2016 08:25 AM
Posted to Indiana Government