A Perry County poll worker was banned in May by local officials from working future elections. (Photo/

This story was originally published by the Indiana Capital Chronicle.

By  Casey Smith

Indiana Capital Chronicle

June 7, 2024

After a southern Indiana poll worker was accused of intimidating a voter in the May primary election — and subsequently barred from working in future Perry County elections — Secretary of State Diego Morales has sided with the worker, calling the ban “unenforceable.”

But Bradley DeHart and his supporters say he was allowed to vote Republican regardless of his party affiliation. DeHart claims that Republican poll worker Sherri Flynn “targeted” and “intimidated” him as he tried to cast a Republican ballot during the primary.

He emphasized in his complaint to the local election board that he believes Flynn discriminated against him because of his sexual orientation and his relationship with Democratic Tell City Mayor Chris Cail.

In an interview with the Indiana Capital Chronicle, however, Flynn said she knows DeHart had a right to vote Republican — but she also had a right to request his signature on a form challenging his vote. Flynn said her challenge had “nothing” to do with DeHart’s sexual orientation, and that she would have challenged other voters, but her forms to do so were taken away by polling officials.

Backlash from the ordeal has “ruined my life,” she said.

The incident has called into question what qualifies as “election interference” — especially after Morales urged Hoosier public officials to “blow the whistle” on such events.

It also comes on the heels of an initiative encouraging Democrats to vote Republican in the primary to support more moderate candidates.

A primary day ‘kerfuffle’

The incident in question took place on May 7 at the Tell City Depot voting location. According to DeHart’s account, he chose to take a Republican ballot “for several local reasons, and for the state races that I had interest in, as well.”

DeHart had recently moved to Indiana from Kentucky and had never before voted in an Indiana primary.

He said he had already checked in to vote when Flynn approached him and asked for his ticket “without explaining why she needed it.” DeHart said Flynn took his voting ticket just prior to going to the voting machine.

Flynn, though, said as the poll judge it is her job to take every voters’ ticket before escorting them to a voting machine.

“I watched her pull out a two-sided form and begin writing on it. For several minutes, I stood in the middle of the room waiting, while no one offered any information or explanation,” DeHart said in his complaint. “It wasn’t until I asked what was going on that she turned back and responded by stating, ‘I’m filing a challenge against your vote.’”

DeHart, not understanding the contents of the form, said he refused to fill out the document.

“I specifically told her that ‘I did not feel safe’ in her presence due to her intimidating, aggressive demeanor and hostility she was expressing toward me,” DeHart said, adding that Flynn “aggressively verbalized very loudly that she was challenging my vote” because he was not a member of the Republican Party.

“She proceeded to state to everyone in the room that, if I cast a vote without signing the form, then it was considered ‘election fraud,’ and then stated that if my vote was counted, ‘the entire election would have to be redone,’” DeHart continued in his complaint.

A different version of events

Flynn, on the other hand, maintained that she was “supposed to take the ticket” – she did so for every voter. But recognizing that his partner is a Democrat, Flynn thought it was “highly unlikely” that DeHart was a Republican.

“And so I pulled him aside and said — you know, this is a small county — I know who he is. And I said, ‘Bradley, can you wait just a moment?’ And I took him aside because I didn’t want to make a big spectacle in front of everyone, because you just don’t do that to people,” Flynn said.

That’s when she went to retrieve and fill out the challenge form, also known as a Pre-6. According to the document, a voter in a precinct may challenge a person “on the grounds of party affiliation,” as long as the challenger is a member of the same political party “for whose candidates a person is now offering to vote at a primary election.” Flynn is a Republican.

A challenged person can be barred from voting unless they complete the affidavit on the form.

“I said, ‘Bradley, what this is is a challenge form. I’m challenging because you are pulling a Republican ticket.’ I explained to him this does not mean you cannot vote, and it does not mean you cannot vote Republican,” Flynn said. “I told him that all you have to do is sign this — and it is an affidavit, under penalty by perjury — that you have either voted for a majority of Republicans in the last general election, or you will vote for a majority of Republicans in the coming general election. I said if you sign this, you can go ahead and vote. And he said, I’m not signing that.”

Flynn said the situation escalated from there. As tensions flared, local police arrived at the polling place, which she said was illegal, given the state code prohibits law enforcement officers from entering a polling place unless they’re called by a poll worker. To Flynn’s knowledge, “none of us called.”

She said DeHart was the first voter she could have challenged that day, given that the challenge forms had only been delivered to her at the polling site “minutes before.”

Even so, the challenge documents had been a point of contention earlier in the morning. Flynn said the form was not covered in her polling training and that she’d only learned about it the night before while reviewing a digital training presentation provided by the secretary of state’s office.

When she inquired about using the challenge forms on Election Day, Flynn said local election officials were unfamiliar with the forms and initially took her personal copy away before the county GOP chair provided her with more.

After the incident with DeHart, those challenge forms were confiscated by members of the election board, too.

“​​The forms were gone. I couldn’t — I didn’t — challenge anybody the rest of the day because there were no forms,” Flynn said. “This whole narrative that I only chose to challenge (DeHart) is ridiculous. They took my forms in the morning, and then after I challenged him, I had no other forms. They took the form I used to challenge him and that he did not sign.”

Soon after, DeHart submitted a formal complaint to the Perry County Election Board outlining his grievances. In it, he said he has personally supported both Republican and Democrat candidates in past Kentucky elections.

“Ms. Flynn made and used a very ill informed and prejudiced assumption against me on May 7, 2024 and used voter intimidation tactics to hinder my Constitutional right to vote as an American,” he said.

On May 21, two weeks after the election, the Perry County Election Board unanimously found that Flynn had intimidated and threatened DeHart. In addition, the board banned Flynn from serving again in that capacity in Perry County.

The Board is controlled 2-1 by Democrats.

Flynn didn’t speak at the meeting because she said she went on a pre-planned vacation after the election and wasn’t notified of it.

Morales weighs in

In his letter to the county election officials, Morales did not address — or defend — Flynn’s actions. Rather, he said members do not have the authority to ban election officers.

The Republican secretary of state noted the election board did not give Flynn notice of the hearing where they ultimately decided to ban her. He said, too, that the case should be brought to the Indiana Election Commission.

Further in his letter, Morales appears to encourage Perry County Republicans to go to court to contest the local election board’s ruling, even pointing out the 30-day deadline for doing so.

Morales’ letter comes on the heels of a 180-page election security guide released by his office before the May primary.

A Secretary of State spokesperson said the whistleblower materials “were designed to encourage threat awareness and informed election security and safety collaboration and response between election administrators and allied resources including state and federal emergency response agencies, local law enforcement, and local emergency response agencies.”

But Don Knebel, president of ReCenter Indiana Inc., the educational arm of the bipartisan centrist political action committee of the same name, said the Perry County case is the only challenge that has been registered in Indiana.

Earlier this year, ReCenter Indiana launched a campaign — including a series of billboards — calling for Hoosier Democrats to vote Republican in the primary election.

“We believe that thousands of Democrats across the state went to the polls on or before May 7 and pulled Republican ballots. We know some of them were motivated by ReCenter’s campaign because they’ve told us so,” Knebel said in a statement to the Capital Chronicle. “So far as we know, the voter in Perry County was challenged solely because of his association with the Democratic mayor, but there’s no evidence that Mr. DeHart has any party affiliation.”

And despite Morales’ lobby for increased “election integrity,” Knebel said “there’s a huge gap between what Morales says and what he does.”

“It’s also clear that the secretary of state is not interested in election interference if that interference is coming from Republicans,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Flynn — who was a first-time poll worker — said she’ll “never again” be a poll worker. Even so, she is likely to seek out an election law attorney who can help overturn the ban.

“My reputation in this town has been trashed. The things people are saying about me on Facebook — I need to be in jail, I’m the most horrible person that ever lived. It’s horrible in a small town. I don’t go anywhere by myself because I’m scared … people are threatening me, people are driving by my house,” she said. “The whole thing has basically ruined my life.”

Indiana Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Indiana Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Niki Kelly for questions:

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