The Indiana Supreme Court said Friday the state recount commission should go ahead and reconsider whether Secretary of State Charlie White was a valid candidate for the office to which he was elected.
Democrats challenged White's candidacy after the November election, saying he wasn't eligible to seek the office. A Hamilton County grand jury indicted White, a Republican, in March on seven counts, including voter fraud and perjury, for using his ex-wife's address on a voter registration form.
White has blamed the error on his busy schedule and new marriage and called it an honest mistake.
The recount panel asked the Indiana Supreme Court to step in after Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg ordered it to reconsider its December decision dismissing the Democrat challenge. The state Supreme Court said it was accepting jurisdiction in the case because of its public urgency.
But the justices spurned underlying pleas for more time, rejecting White's motion to stay the civil case until after criminal voter fraud charges against him are resolved. If convicted of a felony, he would have to resign.
Democrats who are challenging White's candidacy had argued it was too early for appeals, and the court granted their motion, saying appeals should wait until the civil case is finished.
The commission has scheduled a hearing on the issue for June 21 and said it will reach a decision by June 30.
"I think the message here is the recount commission should proceed toward making a final decision in this matter," said Bill Groth, an attorney representing the Indiana Democratic Party.
White's attorney, James Bopp, said he would ask the high court to reconsider. He said Friday's order reflected a "fundamental misunderstanding of the situation" because the case actually originated with the recount commission, not Marion Circuit Court.
A spokesman for the state attorney general's office, which is representing the recount panel, said he had not yet reviewed the order.
Democrats contend that under state law, Democrat Vop Osili, who lost to White by about 345,000 votes in the Nov. 2 election, should take office if White is declared to have been ineligible when he ran for the office.