"With all expediency." These are the words that Dyer County Election Commission Chairman Joe Enoch used to describe how the process of pursuing legal action against felon voters should be handled.
The commission is recommending that District Attorney General Phil Bivens prosecute convicted felons that have registered to vote in Dyer County.
Administrator Jane Heathcott said a couple of months ago the state sent her office a list of convicted felons in the state. Each county then had to check its records to see who was on the list.
After checking Dyer County's list of registered voters they found 31 felons that had registered to vote.
She noted that 17 had registered to vote and checked the box saying they had not been convicted of a felony and voted in elections as far back as the early '90s.
There are also 14 felons that have registered and checked the box saying they were not felons and had not voted.
All 31 of the voters registered by mail and not with the Dyer County Election Commission office.
Heathcott said if a felon checks the box stating they are not a felon and they sign it, they committed a Class D felony punishable up to 12 years in prison and a $5,000 fine or both.
A warning is printed in red ink above the signature box noting the penalty for falsifying information. It states, "WARNING: Giving false information to register to vote or attempting to register when not qualified is a felony punishable by not less than two (2) years nor more than twelve (12) years imprisonment or a fine of $5,000 or both."
"The state has gotten stricter on these felony convictions," said Heathcott. "They have cracked down."
She said the county clerk's office provides them with information about felonies within the county, but they had no way of checking for registered voters convicted of felonies outside the county until now.
"The Secretary of State's office and the coordinator's office are providing us with this information now as well as the circuit court clerks," said Heathcott. "They are making the information more readily available to the offices."
She said the amount may be small in comparison to overall voters, but could have an effect on an election.
"That many names can strictly change the outcome of an election, especially a district election," said Heathcott.
Heathcott said 11 felons have already been indicted in Lauderdale County and other counties are taking the same course of action across the state.
"DAs across the state are taking this very seriously," said Heathcott. "Anybody that has thought about doing it might ought to think twice."
Convicted felons that have not committed such acts as murder, rape, treason or voter fraud may make a formal request to have their voting right restored.