Voting along party lines, the Marion County Election Board decided that Richard Lugar, the Republican senator from Indiana, was ineligible to vote in his home precinct.
The Indianapolis Star reports that the board agreed with its staff attorney that according to state law Lugar had abandoned his residency when he sold his house and moved to the Washington area.
Lugar defended his position in February telling local station RTV6 that two attorneys general have affirmed that his residence is valid, despite the fact that he sold his home in 1977 and he and his wife own a home in Virginia.
“We had a home that we had built in Indianapolis with room for our four boys and our family. It was too expensive, at least for us at that time in our lives, to maintain two houses,” Lugar told the TV station. “So we sold the house the following year after we had been elected.”
The Star adds:
“According to Election Board attorneys, there would be an easy fix — the Lugars could submit new voter registration forms that list a physical address in any Indiana county with which they currently have a connection. That could be a family member’s home or, possibly, the Lugar family farm. There is no house on that farm, but it may satisfy the requirement.
“The GOP board member, Patrick J. Dietrick, said after today’s vote that the other members ‘utterly failed to consider the circumstances of this alleged violation of election law.’ Today Clerk Beth White’s motion said there was no evidence that the Lugars knowingly violated residency requirements in voting previously in their Wayne Township precinct. ‘I do not relish the task before us,’ White said, and she called the decision difficult. But she came down on the side of believing Lugar and his wife, Charlene, had an invalid residence for voting purposes.”
Lugars residency, reports USA Today, was made an issue by “his GOP challenger, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, and Rep. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat also running for the Senate.”
If you remember, this kind of thing came up in the Republican primary, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry proposed a part-time Congress, arguing that it’s the only way for politicians to stay connected to their constituents.
According to CBS News, Lugar’s spokesman called the move an “outrage.”
“They apparently don’t see any path to victory at the ballot box, so they keep maneuvering in hopes they can avoid competing head-on with Senator Lugar,” the statement said, according to CBS.