Ballot dispute continues in Terre Haute

A local ballot dispute goes to the courtroom. That's after a candidate and her lawyer say her name is in the wrong spot on the Terre Haute City Council ballot.

Posted: Apr 15, 2019 6:49 PM
Updated: Apr 16, 2019 1:49 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A local ballot dispute goes to the courtroom. That's after a candidate and her lawyer say her name is in the wrong spot on the Terre Haute City Council ballot.

Tess Brooks-Stephens will challenge Cheryl Loudermilk for a Terre Haute City Council seat. As News 10 has shared, Vigo County Clerk Brad Newman has Loudermilk's name appearing ahead of Brooks-Stephens. That goes against Indiana law, which requires candidates be listed alphabetically by last name.

Prior to court Monday, Newman claimed the name “Brooks" was listed as a middle name on the filing form, not a last name.

However Monday afternoon, a document was produced by an Indiana State Police Detective. It was said to be the original Can 42, or candidate filing document, filed by Brooks-Stephens.

Both ISP and eventually Newman testified the whited out middle name appeared to start with a "D" not a "B". This would mean Brooks was never listed as the middle name.

Brooks-Stephens alleges she filled out the Can 42 at home, brought it in, and never altered the form with white out. The only change she made with the office was to correct her address, which she said in court was a typographical error fixed by the Absentee Voting Office.

However, no one who's testified so far including Brad Newman, Chief Deputy Clerk Leanna Moore, Deputy Clerk Kathy Martin recall whiting out the form. So the questions remain: Who did, and how did incorrect information end up on the ballot?

Another point brought up in the courtroom has to do with how candidate information is handled.

What a candidate puts on their Can 42 is supposed to reflect what is in the State Voter Registry. If it does not, SVR information is supposed to be changed to match the Can 42.

One idea mentioned in court was that a second document came into play; where a copy of the Can 42 document was made, and changed to match the State Voter Registry. Which, Brooks-Stephens said the same day she filed her Can 42, she did visit the Voter Registration Office to sign up. This time line could have played into the confusion.

Chris Gambill, Brooks-Stephens lawyer says getting this name issue corrected is very important.

He shares, “Studies have indicated that there's typically a 10 percent or better advantage to whoever is at the top of the ballot. Really it's unfortunate that there should be one, but the bottom line is that is the reality. And if we're gonna have rules, we need to all follow them."

This hearing was continued until Tuesday morning.

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