Angry Indiana GOP delegates defeat sitting Secretary of State, nominate conservative
Governor Holcomb-appointed Secretary of State Holli Sullivan suffered an embarrassing defeat as activists at the State GOP Convention voted for Diego Morales, who promised to secure elections
Diego Morales, the insurgent conservative candidate for Secretary of State, has won the Republican nomination, defeating the incumbent Secretary of State, Holli Sullivan, who was appointed to the position last year by liberal Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.
It’s a stunning defeat for establishment Republicans in the state, and a sign that Republican voters do not have confidence in the security of elections in Indiana and want change.
On the first ballot at the State GOP Convention, where nominees for Secretary of State, Treasurer and Auditor are chosen by elected delegates, Morales got almost 47% of the vote of delegates, compared to 34% for Holli Sullivan.
Diego Morales 780 votes, 46.79%
David Shelton 313 votes, 18.78%
Holli Sullivan 559 votes, 33.53%
Paul Hager 15 votes, 0.9%
Hager then dropped off and the vote went to a second ballot, where Morales got 52% of the votes of delegates, winning the nomination.
Morales was known as the conservative candidate and had traversed the state tirelessly over the last two years, pledging to ensure that no illegal immigrants are voting in Indiana elections and promising to secure Indiana’s elections.
Morales is an immigrant himself. He came to Indiana from Guatemala with his family as a teenager and graduated from Silver Creek High School in Sellersburg, in Clark County, in the year 2000. After earning his college degree, he went to work briefly in the Secretary of State’s office under Todd Rokita, and worked also for Gov. Mike Pence as an adviser and for former 9th district Congressman Mike Sodrel for his trucking company.
In a rousing speech on the convention floor in the early afternoon on June 18, Morales said his number one focus would be cleaning the voter rolls in the state, and that he would also strengthen voter ID laws. He said he would use his position as Secretary of State, “to encourage all voters to vote — at the polls, on Election Day.”
He also said that ballot harvesting would not be tolerated under his watch, and that he would introduce the first-ever mobile Secretary of State’s office, at no extra cost to voters.
Morales has attracted the enthusiastic support of many Republican and conservative activists in the state who are angry with Gov. Holcomb and were aghast that, following the 2020 presidential election, Sullivan insisted that there was nothing to worry about in Indiana, and that elections in the state are secure.
Indiana is among just a handful of states still using voting machines with no paper trail — machines that cybersecurity experts have warned for more than 20 years are not safe, given that they are computers and can be programmed to flip votes from one candidate to another, as has happened in some states. Without a paper trail, there is no way to audit the vote, and in a recount, only absentee ballots can be recounted.
The machines are made by an Indianapolis-based company called MicroVote and are used in 57 out of 92 counties in the state.
A bill pushed through the Indiana General Assembly at the behest of the Secretary of State’s office this year will add printers to those machines by 2024, but won’t provide real paper ballots that can be recounted by hand.
In addition, the state has been sued at least twice for failure to maintain its voter roll as required under federal law — under Section 8 of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, known as the “Motor Voter” law.
Still, prior to the 2020 election, several counties in the state had voter rolls with more names on them than people of voting age living in the county.
In addition, two citizen-run election integrity groups, Indiana First Action and Secure Indiana, canvassed with the official voter roll in several counties in the state and found hundreds of anomalies, including one case where the couple listed on the voter roll at an address in Indianapolis had not lived there for 26 years!
Indiana First Action posted an expose on the 2020 election in Indiana, which includes the results of a canvas in Hamilton County. It has more than 14,000 views.
Sullivan is a former state representative from Evansville who was appointed to fill the position of Secretary of State after Connie Lawson announced in February 2021 that she was stepping down in the middle of her term.
Under Sullivan, the Secretary of State’s office has repeatedly violated the state Access to Public Records Act, refusing to release public documents related to elections. In particular, for the last year, the office has refused to release the audit reports from the 2020 elections that were formally requested by this reporter in May of 2021.
The audits were performed in select counties as part of a pilot program that was begun under Lawson, with the voting machines in those select counties tested for accuracy by the Voting System Technical Oversight Program (VSTOP).
The Brown County Clerk told this reporter in 2021 that VSTOP staff told her following the audit of Brown County that the county’s voting machines were 90% effective. She confirmed that what she understood this to mean was that they recorded 9 out of every 10 votes accurately — a stunning revelation given that many elections are decided by less than 10%.
The final tally on the second ballot for the Secretary of State’s race was as follows:
Diego Morales 847 votes, 52%
Holli Sullivan 561 votes, 35%
David Shelton 215 votes, 13%