Letter: Absentee-ballot voters shouldn’t need an excuse

State Rep. Carey Hamilton’s ideas to improve voter access in Indiana [Why do we make it hard for working people to vote?, Forefront, Feb. 22] are common sense ideas, all well-proven in other states. In fact, with Michigan voters passing Measure 3 by 2:1 (which included a provision allowing voters to request an absentee ballot without having to provide an excuse), New York State just passing the first step to a constitutional amendment for no-excuse absentee voting there, plus Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire all with no-excuse legislation being considered in their 2019 sessions, Indiana is soon going to feel very lonely in its attempt to continue to make voting less accessible to its citizens.

We know that in the last Indiana legislative session, the issue of “what about fraud and abuse” was raised against no-excuse absentee voting. But that flies in the face of the 32 states that already offer their voters that convenience, and the 42 million votes cast in the 2018 midterms nationally (about 27 percent of all votes cast) from mailed-out ballots.

If no excuse is good for voters over 65, it’s good for voters under 65. If fraud and abuse is a red herring for voters over 65, it’s also one for voters under 65.

Let’s call it as it is: Sadly, even with the examples of bright red Utah now at 98 percent of votes coming from mailed-out ballots, and bright red Nebraska now with 11 counties pre-approved for 100 percent mailed ballots in 2020, there are some folks on the political right who seem to think mailed-out ballots are threatening. They aren’t. Witness that in bright blue Oregon and Washington, both with 100 percent mailed-out ballot voting, their respective secretaries of state, both elected with this model, are Republicans.

The fundamental question to ask is, “Whose ballot is it—the government’s ballot or the voter’s ballot?” If it is the voter’s ballot, they should not need a “note from home” like a truant school child to get one mailed to them. Voters should demand that their elected representatives treat them as the customer, and make the voter-centric change to no- excuse absentee part of Indiana law.

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Gerry Langeler

Director of Communications & Research

Vote at Home

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