New Law Removes Candidates from Ballot

Candidates removed from ballot as Indiana’s two-primaries law takes effect

By Margaret Menge. Article republished with permission of the author. The article was originally published at The Center Square on February 23, 2022.

(The Center Square) – A state law passed by the Indiana General Assembly last year removed several challengers from the ballot for the May primary elections, preventing many first-time candidates from running for office this year.

Twenty-nine ballot challenges were filed against 24 candidates, most for Congress and state legislature. The majority of the challenges were based on the law that says candidates can only run in the primary as a Republican or Democrat if they voted in that same party’s primary in the last two primaries in which they voted.

Previously, the law said candidates only need to have voted in one of the party’s primaries.

Charles Bookwalter, who was challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Jim Baird in in Indiana’s Fourth Congressional District, told the Indiana Election Commission at his hearing the new two-primary rule is “creating a democracy where only professional politicians can get on the ballot.”

“The last two years have seen the greatest loss of freedom in our lifetime, and our Republican leadership has been silent,” he said in his statement to the commissioners. “You can’t enforce this law in an unconstitutional way any more than a service member can follow an unlawful order.”

Bookwalter acknowledged he hadn’t voted in the 2020 primary election, saying he didn’t go to the polls because his congressman was unopposed, as was former President Donald Trump.

“I voted Republican in nearly every election since 2000…There’s no question that I’m a Republican,” he said, adding that his county chairwoman told him she didn’t doubt he was a Republican, only that she didn’t want him to challenge Baird.

The challenge to Bookwalter was brought by two Republican county chairs, who had also declined to help him get on the ballot by the other means written in state law – by providing him with a letter of “certification” affirming that he is a member of the party.

The law was authored by Rep. Timothy Wesco, R-Osceola, the chairman of the House elections committee.

On the House floor last week, the day before the Election Commission hearings, Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Milford, offered an amendment to a bill to return to the requirement to voting in just one primary.

He said while people are eligible under the Indiana Constitution to run for the Indiana House when they’re 21, under the new law, at age 21 they would not have been of voting age for two primaries.

“What we have, the law that we passed last year, is blatantly unconstitutional,” he said. “This amendment will fix this. It won’t fix it for this year, because that ship has sailed already, but two years from now, four years from now, if this is not changed, a 21-year-old would not be able to run for state representative because they would have been ineligible to vote in the two primaries.”

He also said someone running for the Indiana General Assembly only has to live in the state for two years, but the two-primary rule means they have to have lived in the state for at least four years before running.

“It appears like this wasn’t vetted properly,” he said.

“This is not about being a member of this body. This is about running as a member of a particular political party. It’s an important distinction to make.” Wesco said in response.

At the hearings on the candidate challenges, the Indiana Election Commission voted to uphold the challenge to Bookwalter’s candidacy based on his not having voted in the 2020 primary, and ordered his name removed from the ballot.

Zach Smith who was on the ballot in the Republican primary against U.S. Rep. Greg Pence was challenged by Johnson County GOP Chairwoman Beth Boyce and removed from the ballot after he acknowledged he didn’t have a primary voting record in Indiana. He explained he’d been living in Ohio until last year, when he’d returned to live in his hometown in Indiana.

There were 10 challenges to candidates running for the Indiana House of Representatives. At least five of them were removed from the ballot and three of them were challenging incumbent Republican legislators Rep. Joanna King, R-Middlebury; Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn; and Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, who will now run unopposed in the primary.

Margaret Menge

New Law Removes Candidates from Ballot – Margaret Menge

William Daugherity, Ph.D Harvard, Professor Emeritus, Texas A&M

The Importance of Cast Vote Records (CVR)

Several counties are currently in the election recount process. How can citizens be assured fraudulent ballots are not being counted? Read this post with important information from Indiana First Action to learn more. Newest release from William Daugherity on Cast Vote...
Voter on Election Day

Fulton County 2020 Election Problems

Who's checking the fact-checkers? Fulton County 2020 election problems, now confirmed, challenge media fact-checkers The AP's "fact-check" admitted that the county’s audit of the 2020 presidential race found errors, inconsistencies, and double counting of ballots....
New Election Integrity Program

New Election Integrity Program

Unfortunately, the 2020 election demonstrated the need for this effort. Trump Campaign, RNC Unveil Massive Election Integrity Program Leah Barkoukis • April 19, 2024 • TownHall The Republican National Committee together with the Trump campaign announced Friday the...