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We previously presented to the Board a request for a meeting which was scheduled for Thursday, August 2, 2012 based upon information our committee provided to the Vanderburgh County Clerk and member of the Election Board, Susan Kirk. Unfortunately, that meeting was cancelled by Ms Kirk and she requested we submit our information to her so she could distribute it to the Election board.
In response to Susan Kirk’s request as the Vanderburgh County Clerk and a member of the Election Board, we are setting out the basis for our request for a meeting and our request to have the public question which reads as follows “Shall the City of Evansville and Vanderburgh County reorganize as a single political subdivision?” removed as a ballot question from the vote on November 6, 2012 because of the reasons set out below, which are the responsibility of the Election Board.
Insufficient Signatures to Place Petition before Voters of Vanderburgh County
There are not enough valid signatures on the petitions to meet the state requirements of 5% of the voters who voted for Secretary of State in the 2006 general election. The last election for Secretary of State before the petition was 2006 when 52,639 voters in Vanderburgh County voted for Secretary of State. State law requires five percent of that number which is 2,632 voters sign a petition meeting all the requirements of the Indiana laws. The petition was submitted to the county auditor with 2,676 valid signatures. However, in reviewing and researching the petitions that were submitted we have found more than enough entries that do not meet the requirements outlined by the State of Indiana at I.C. 3-10-9 to bring the number of valid signatures well below the number required to initiate a reorganization action. The failure of the Vanderburgh County Clerk’s office and its Election Board to adequately research and review the petitions resulted in over one hundred (100) duplications, triplicates, failure to have a printed name or signatures resulting in the valid number of signatures on the petition to be well below the minimum of two thousand six hundred and thirty-two (2,632) registered voters. The petitions were not checked against the Secretary of State bank of registered voters. The petitions are invalid and the question should not be on the ballot.
Failure to have Petition Comply with IC3-10-9-6
Indiana State law requires that in order for a petition presenting a question to be placed on the ballot to be a valid petition, the petition itself must state in clear and plain language the date of the election on which the ballot question will be placed. The language in the below referenced statute clearly requires that the petition regarding Vanderburgh Consolidation or Reorganization to have the date of the November, 2012 election on the petition. The petitions have no date and therefore should never been validated under state law by the Election Board as is clearly set out in the statute below:
IC 3-10-9-6: Petition for placement on ballot
Sec. 6. (a) If a statute requires the submission of a petition for the placement of a local public question on the ballot, the petition must:
(1) state the day of the election for which the petitioners seek the placement of the question on the ballot;
(2) contain the signature of each petitioner;
(3) contain the printed name of each petitioner; and
(4) state the residence address of each petitioner as set forth on the county voter registration record (or the mailing address if no residence address is set forth on the record).
(b) A petition is not valid for the placement of the public question on the ballot on any other election day.
As added by P.L.10-1988, SEC.98. Amended by P.L.3-1995, SEC.91; P.L.3-1997, SEC.240.
Failure to have Organization of Vanderburgh County Voters Initiate Proposal
The League of Women Voters of Southwestern Indiana initiated the petition for Vanderburgh County government consolidation and was instrumental in collecting the signatures for the petition. This is a violation of Indiana State Code IC 36-1.5-4-11 which states that “voters of a political subdivision may initiate a proposed reorganization”. The membership of the League of Women Voters of Southwestern Indiana is not restricted to Vanderburgh County therefore they are not all inclusive voters of the Vanderburgh County political subdivision and are not eligible under state law to initiate a proposed reorganization in Vanderburgh County. Some of the signatures were from outside the county and outside the state.
IC 36-1.5-4-11: Initiation of reorganization by voters
Sec. 11. (a) The voters of a political subdivision may initiate a proposed reorganization by filing a written petition, substantially in the form prescribed by the department, with the clerk of the political subdivision that:
(1) proposes a reorganization; and
(2) names the political subdivisions that would be reorganized in the proposed reorganization.
(b) If the written petition is signed by at least five percent (5%) of the voters of the political subdivision, as determined by the vote cast in the political subdivision for secretary of state at the most recent general election, the clerk of the political subdivision shall certify the petition to the legislative body of the political subdivision.
As added by P.L.186-2006, SEC.4.
Petition Fails to Accurately State Issue for Public Consideration
The petition as written was misleading with regard to eliminating costly duplication and promoting efficiency. The plan that resulted from this petition does not identify any elimination of cost nor does it define any specific plans to promote efficiency.
PETITION REGARDING GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION
We, the undersigned, ask that Vanderburgh County begin the process that will allow citizens to decide whether to merge the county with the City of Evansville into one countywide governmental unit that would eliminate costly duplication, and promote efficiency, in the provision of Governmental services.
Therefore, for the reasons stated above, we the citizens of Vanderburgh County respectfully request that the petition to reorganize the city of Evansville and Vanderburgh County be removed from the November 6, 2012 ballot.
We would expect a ruling no later than seven days (August 9, 2012) from the submission of this information.
CC: Charles L. Berger, Esq.