Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Precinct Committeemen to Come Out of the Shadows?

I don't agree with the good folks at Hoosier Access a whole lot. They tend to be more socially conservative than I care for, and sometimes they're little more than a mouthpiece for Representative Dan Burton (R-5th CD) and the old guard of the state and local GOP. But as the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and I find myself agreeing with Josh Gillespie in his latest post.

Gillespie discusses Senator-elect Jim Banks (R-17th) proposed legislation that would require county parties to file lists of precinct committeemen and ward chairs with the local county election board. Banks says that his proposed legislation will require these lists to be open to the public.

Banks says that it can be quite difficult for independent voters to find out who their elected or appointed precinct committeeman is. He cites cases he's heard from voters who align themselves with the Tea Party movement. But I'd say that it'd also benefit more than just independent voters, but potential candidates and the actual precinct committeemen as well.

Bil Browning, an LGBT activist who started the blog The Bilerico Project, was a precinct committeeman when he resided in Indianapolis, and took part in the Marion County Democrat's party caucus to elect a representative after Julia Carson passed away in 2007. Browning reports in this post that the lists of precinct committeemen were different for several of the candidates who wanted to serve out the remaining time in Carson's term. Browning also was not able to cast a vote despite being an appointed precinct committeeman at the time, and he says several others were not able to participate as well. Ultimately, Julia's grandson, André Carson, won the caucus vote to fill out Julia's term, and went on to win the special election against then State representative Jon Elrod (R-Indianapolis), the crowded Democrat primary in May for the general election 2008, and the general November election against Elrod.

And that's just the one case we know about. There's no doubt in my mind that the shenanigans Browning reported are common during slating conventions in Marion County among the two major parties.

And a word of advice to the political parties in this state: Don't oppose it. In fact, start complying with this legislation before it passes, or do so even if it doesn't. Post lists on your county party's so that citizens interested in becoming active in a political party can contact someone to get started.

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