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Court: Marion Co. Election Board Overstepped Boundaries

Last updated on Friday, March 21, 2014

(INDIANAPOLIS) - A federal appeals court says Marion County’s Election Board overstepped its bounds by seizing campaign fliers from a candidate running against his party slate.

Indiana law protects political parties' ability to promote their own slate of candidates by requiring written consent from all candidates on a piece of campaign literature. But a lawsuit 11 years ago ended with a settlement in which the Marion County Election Board acknowledged that law violated the First Amendment.

The Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals says the use of the law in 2012 against a state House candidate who tried to hitch his campaign to those of President Obama, now-Senator Joe Donnelly, and other top-of-the-ticket Democrats "shaves very close to harassment."

The case has been sent back to a lower court for further proceedings, but the appeals court warns any attempt to invoke the law in this year's primary could open up the board to a claim of damages.

Zach Mulholland lost his challenge to fellow Democrat Dan Forestal 63-to-37-percent. Forestal went on to win what was then an open House seat in November.

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