Dana Black: Mail-in voting should always be an option

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Should Indiana move to all-mail voting for its elections?

Dana BlackIndiana should move to a mail-in voting option for all voters—but not mail-in only voting.

That’s because some people don’t have mailing addresses, which means removing in-person voting entirely would disenfranchise those individuals.

Instead, we want to increase voter turnout; that includes adding voting options, not taking options away.

Some might say that’s a Democratic talking point, but it is obvious that creating greater access to voting is a bipartisan issue. I saw the evidence in the level of irritation evident by voters of both parties, but predominantly Republicans, when I worked the polls in District 88, a place Democrats haven’t won since, well, ever.

Some voters arrived at the far-northeast-side voting location at 6:02 p.m., just after the polls closed. And they were turned away. Those voters were angry and questioned how they were expected to get from their downtown offices to the Geist/north Lawrence area in an hour, given the amount of traffic on the interstates.

This is obviously a bigger problem than occurs in only Democratic areas of the state. It is not just hourly labor individuals who deserve the right to cast their votes; it is also the downtown employees whose offices could be as much as 18 miles from their polling places.

Mail-in voting would give more people in Indiana greater access to the ballot.

Washington state voters were allowed to register for permanent absentee ballots beginning in the early 1990s; by 1996, more than half of all votes cast came through the mail.

In 2014, the state’s Republican secretary of state, Kim Wyman, told The Washington Post, “Given the opportunity to choose, our voters choose to have the ballot mailed to them. They like the convenience of voting by mail and the fact they get to sit down and control when they vote.”

In Indiana, choice is one of the leading reasons for much of the legislation introduced in our Statehouse.

By making voting more convenient and altering the voting philosophy from an opt-in to an opt-out behavior, mail-in voting will increase voter turnout. In 2018, Colorado had the second-highest voter turnout in the nation, with a 61.4% participation rate. Many attribute the rate to Colorado’s mail-in option, because the system allows for greater access to the ballot.

The question that often materializes when discussing mail-in voting: Is it safe?

In Colorado, two key elements help keep the voting process secure. First, the focus on accuracy of the mailing list. This is done by regularly updating information from both the National Change of Address database and the Colorado Department of Revenue. Furthermore, voting rolls are cross-checked with the Social Security Death Index, so people who have died can be removed from the rolls.

The second security measure is the ability to check voters’ signatures. Before a ballot is submitted, the voter must sign it. A team of bipartisan election judges compares the signature to what is in the system. If the signature does not match, the voter receives a notice from the Clerk’s Office asking for proof the ballot is his or hers.

Choice, convenience, security and increased voter turnout are key reasons Indiana should move to a mail-in voting option. Hoosiers want and deserve greater access to the ballot.•

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5 thoughts on “Dana Black: Mail-in voting should always be an option

  1. Mail in voting would also be rampant for fraud. If getting to the polls is the problem extend the hours. the polls are open for 12 hours currently. I am not sure an employer who will not give you time off to vote, is an employer I would want to be on there payroll.

    1. Colorado and Washington state counter the narrative of voter fraud. It does not happen at any rate higher than in-person voting.

  2. 3 Thoughts:
    1) The fraud argument has been repeatedly debunked. As stated above by Dana B., in states with mail-in voting, there is no more mail-in fraud than that which occurs with in-person voting, and that is so statistically small as to be non-existent.
    2) Greater access and increased turnout can do nothing but good for our democracy. My educated guess is that most if not all of the mail-in opponents are Republican. They don’t want to see an increase in Democratic voters because they will lose the advantage they have held for years in Indiana.
    3) Covid-19. ‘Nuff said.

    IMO, Indiana is not a “Red State”, but rather a “Purple State” where a sizable portion of Democrats either don’t vote out of frustration that the Republican advantage renders their vote meaningless, or can’t vote due to various disenfranchisement issues – socioeconomic, locality, prohibitive voter laws, etc.