Is the state forcing Hoosiers to put their health at risk to vote?
There has been a lot of debate about no-excuse absentee voting here in Indiana. State Democrats and other activists have been demanding that the governor and the Indiana Election Board change the rules to allow Hoosiers to vote by mail without giving a reason for doing so. Their rationale is that no one should have to choose between their health and voting.
I agree. No one should have to pick between their health and voting, and no one does.
If you look at the way Indiana elections work, you will see there is no need to choose between your health and voting. First of all, if you’re over age 65, you can vote by mail. That’s because, if you are over age 65—and particularly if you have health problems—COVID-19 is more dangerous for you. You can vote by mail. Problem solved.
Or, if you have a health condition that makes you more likely to contract COVID-19, guess what? You don’t have to leave the house. You can vote by mail. Now here’s the caveat: You can’t have left the house for something else, like going to the grocery store or out to eat. If you’ve done that, you can’t vote by mail. Otherwise, once again, a problem is solved.
Here are the 11 reasons the state of Indiana allows someone to vote by mail.
◗ You have a reasonable expectation you won’t be able to make it to the polls in the 12 hours they are open.
◗ You will be confined to your residence, hospital or health care facility due to an illness or injury during the 12 hours the polls are open.
◗ You’ll be caring for an individual confined to a private residence due to illness or injury during the entire 12 hours the polls are open.
◗ You have a disability.
◗ You are at least 65 years old.
◗ You have official election duties outside your voting precinct.
◗ You are scheduled to work at your regular place of employment during the entire 12 hours the polls are open.
◗ You cannot vote at the polls in person due to the observance of a religious holiday or discipline the whole 12 hours the polls are open.
◗ You are eligible to vote under the “fail-safe” procedures in state law.
◗ You are a member of the military or a public safety officer.
◗ You are a “serious sex offender” as defined by state law.
◗ You are prevented from voting due to the unavailability of transportation to the polls.
So far, at least 95,000 people in Indiana have applied for absentee ballots for the fall election. That number was about 57,000 back in 2016.
Now, for those of you who choose to vote in person, you’ve got plenty of time and plenty of places to do it—and you don’t have to worry about your health.
You can vote 28 days before Election Day, and with vote centers being all the rage these days, you have very little to worry about. Also, as Secretary of State Connie Lawson mentioned this week, there will be ample personal protection equipment for the poll workers, as well as enough to take care of the voters. Don’t forget your mask, to social distance and to bring your hand sanitizer.
So what are you worried about, again?
You don’t have to choose between your health and your right to vote. You have 11 reasons to mail in a ballot, including if you’re stuck at home due to COVID-19. And if you’re healthy, you’ll have plenty of time and plenty of places to vote.
See, this problem is solved. See you, or maybe not, at the polls.•
Shabazz is an attorney, radio talk show host and political commentator, college professor and stand-up comedian. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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