GOP bill would tighten limits on Indiana mail-in voting

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Democrats and voting rights activists are objecting to a Republican-backed proposal that would require Indiana voters who request mail-in ballots to swear under possible penalty of perjury that they won’t be able to vote in person at any time during the 28 days before Election Day.

An Indiana House committee endorsed the bill 12-7 along party lines Tuesday, sending it to the full Republican-dominated House for consideration.

Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola, defended the proposal he’s sponsoring as an updating of the state’s mail-in ballot law to reflect the greater availability of early in-person voting over the past couple of decades.

“I believe the best policy is to encourage people to vote in person, whether on Election Day or in-person early as much as possible,” Wesco said.

Democrats cited hourslong lines at early voting sites in Indianapolis during the 2020 election and argued that the change would discourage people from selecting their most convenient way of casting a ballot under the penalty of perjury.

Indiana’s current mail-in voting limits allow people to vote by mail only if they fall into one of several categories, including being 65 or older, confined to their homes, scheduled to work throughout the 12 hours Election Day polling sites are open or being absent from their home counties on Election Day. None of those restrictions currently involve the early voting period.

Democratic Rep. Carey Hamilton of Indianapolis said many parents who are busy with their children and don’t control their work schedules won’t know whether they can get to an early voting location.

“They’re threatened with perjuring themselves to be able to get an absentee ballot to be able to safely know that they can safely vote and as opposed to the unsure reality of early voting,” Hamilton said.

Wesco downplayed such concerns, saying “This is an honor system, basically, check the box and vote absentee by mail.”

Julia Vaughn, executive director of the voting advocacy group Common Cause Indiana, said while county election officials don’t investigate whether those voting by mail actually meet the requirements, the threat of perjury charges would scare off some people from requesting mail-in ballots.

“We haven’t had problems in terms of fraud connected with voting by mail,” Vaughn said. “So this new language is completely unnecessary and really does a disservice to voters.”

Election officials and many political campaigns encouraged mail-in voting in 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns.

That pushed mail-in balloting to nearly 600,000, along with some 1.3 million in-person early votes cast, according to the state election division. Mail-in voting jumped about 3-1/2 times from 150,000 ballots in 2016, when almost 1 million people cast early in-person votes.

Democratic Rep. Tonya Pfaff of Terre Haute said she didn’t agree with actions to discourage mail-in voting.

“Why do you why do I physically need to stand there and push a button when I can spend time at home researching my candidates, seeing their policies?” Pfaff said. “I don’t understand the philosophy of why I need to stand there.”

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21 thoughts on “GOP bill would tighten limits on Indiana mail-in voting

  1. Not sure what the issue is, if you vote by mail it should not be an issue to state, “I will not go to a poll and vote as well” seems to be a reasonable request.

    1. Given the protections in current processes that prevent people from voting twice, once via absentee ballot and once via the polls, what is the issue that is trying to be solved for?

      It’s like these bills are written by people who are grandstanding and don’t actually have no idea what they’re talking about.

  2. ” Voting Rights activist” another term the liberal media has come up with. When Roe v Wade became law there were, and are, organizations formed and are called; “Right to life” The media finds this repulsive. So you came up with ‘Reproductive rights” and “Abortion Foes” Just a little subliminal message from you to us

    1. Straight to abortion, huh Paul? Classic, but certainly not classy. Why don’t you go comment on the OAN/Fox News/WSJ OpEd message boards and stay out of IBJ.

    2. Yowza Nate…now even WSJ is too right-wing for the slobbering ideologues. Just gotta keep pushing that Overton Window left don’t we?! Because as we all know, you can never be too far left. Left = Progress LOL

      If that’s the best you can do the defend against the obvious and persistent efforts of Democrats nationwide to defraud elections, is it any wonder why the current occupant of the Oval Office manages to be even less popular than the sleazy casino-magnate-reality-TV-star that preceded him? Here’s a hint: when you rig elections to win, it means your vision isn’t popular enough to catch hold with people through an honest political process, so there should be no surprise when you flail and thrash once in office.

  3. So the best way to vote is in person. Let’s talk that out.

    If the best way to vote is in person, and it’s so important, why isn’t it a holiday and why do the polls in Indiana close at 6pm? What’s two more hours? It’s not as though we aren’t swimming in money as a state.

    If the best way to vote is to vote in person, and early voting is OK, why are state Republicans not stepping in to mandate a certain number of early voting sites based on population?

    Why have they sat silent as Republicans in Marion County blocked efforts to have more voting sites every year since 2008?

    When there was a lawsuit and settlement that added a handful of sites in Marion County … why did Curtis Hill step in to sue to try to block it?

    Why did they not vow to act after people had to stand in lines for multiple hours to vote in Marion County in the 2020 election to make it easier to vote in person?

    State Republicans love to step in and tell Indianapolis how to do things. Apparently enabling more people to vote in Marion County isn’t one of them.

    1. Very good questions. It’s almost as if Indiana Republicans want to make it harder to vote, especially for populations that tend to vote for Democrats. But that couldn’t possibly be true, because trying to prevent some people from voting would be anti-democracy and totally against the American values that we all cherish.

    2. It’s almost as though they think “those people” aren’t “real Americans” and are unworthy of voting.

      And it’s not like they still run around claiming election fraud in the last two elections … despite multiple recounts that found nothing and lawsuits so ridiculous the lawyers involved have faced repercussions.

      Yes, Republicans care deeply about along sure everyone should be able to vote. Remember when Congress tried to make it easier for people to vote in a pandemic and Republicans stood up and said things like

      “The things they had in there were crazy. They had things—levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

      If Republicans want to do something about voter fraud, maybe they should crack down on the Villages in Florida. That place is a documented hotbed of voter fraud.

    3. They’re afraid of “those people” for one reason: if “those people” were voted into the right offices to have a solid bloc [sic], there’s a good chance they’re going to bring up the “R” word (and I’m not talking about “R”epublicans): Reparations. Period. End of sentence.

  4. I’m surprised this tag on the voting machines:
    “By Indiana Law you have 2 minutes to complete your voting.”
    isn’t reduced to just 1 minute to try even harder to get straight ticket voting.

    1. It strikes me that … that’s a law because otherwise someone could just hide out in the booth all day and disenfranchise the rest of the voters.

      Of course if we got rid of the machines and just counted paper ballots, we wouldn’t have that potential issue. (My issue with machines isn’t security, it’s cost.)

    2. Joe B: Yeah, but 2 minutes? I could see 5 minutes, but considering I vote a straight ‘D’ ticket, it’s not such a big deal. I just haven’t decided to see what they’re going to do if I take more than 2 minutes but this might be the year to find out. I’m in (or was in, until we sold our neighborhood) the smallest precinct in Fishers. Several years ago, I walked to vote with a new book in hand. (My mother never heard me say, “Mom, I need something to do.”
      The lines were incredibly long except for my precinct. So, I sat and read until someone else in my precinct arrived and I could get in line and tell people I spent an hour waiting to vote. I did notice how the lines for the other precincts were incredibly long. There were people who probably did spend an hour standing with nothing to do – not even using their phones.
      I love primaries. “Will you be voting Republican?” and I respond, “Hell, no!” with a voice which projects just loud enough to reenact the old TV ad: “My broker is EF Hutton…and EF Hutton says…” then everyone stops & pays attention.
      Whilst we’re talking about voting, Donald wouldn’t be such a PITA/dufus right now if someone had explained to him how he went from being ahead by so many votes in a particular location, then suddenly hears of someone saying a flood of votes came in and put him way behind…if only they were to point out that flood of votes wasn’t composed of fake votes but that they don’t count the advance votes until they count the same-day. They weren’t fake, they were just early. What a maroon.

    3. I’m actually surprised that’s a law. I am pretty sure I spent more than 2 minutes in there in 2020 since it’s not physically possible to go through the ballot in 2 minutes when you have to vote for

      Atty General
      State Senator
      State Rep
      County offices
      Township offices

    4. Oh, good grief. I’ve worked the polls in Hendricks
      County in every election except one (recovering from cancer surgery) for about 25 years. I can count on one hand the number of times we, as poll workers, have had to enforce the 2-minute limit. The general practice is that the 2-minute in enforced only if someone appears to be having trouble or is otherwise intentionally obstinate. It is rare….very rare.

  5. Voting should be simple just like taxes. We allow politicians to play games.

    Want to vote, do the paperwork to prove you meet the requirements. Show identification.

    And until government (which won’t be cause its run amok of apathy and corruption) makes it secure, it should be in person or via secure means like our asking institutions.

    Those who complain about not having mail in voting are the same who will wait in lines healthy and then check via a test with major error rates.

    To close up the IRS issues over the news:
    – move to a consumption tax.

    No more IRS or cheats. But God forbid government lose control over the money laundering of our pay.

    1. “secure means like our banking institutions”

      P.S. Congress’ job is to make everything more complex for control and power. (Career) Politicians need term limits. Guess who is exempt from the vaccine mandate which failed? Congress. Congress should be under the same healthcare as the ACA. Congress should not receive a lifetime pension and continued lobbyist money. Whether you serve the altar of Pelosi and Schumer like Joe B. or you are disgusted by both sides of hypocrisy like me, enough is enough. Throw them all out every 8 years.

    2. Voting is secure. If you don’t believe not is, you’re not a serious person. Full stop. The only fraud is the Big Lie.

      Over 90% of Congresspeople get re-elected. Not many people take action to get rid of the incumbent that is representing them.

      Altar of Pelosi? Sounds like a name of a terrible book club. Think I’ll pass on that, along with The Lauren Boebert Jewish Reconnaissance Society.

    3. I can add to the office restrictions:
      Anyone holding any elected office at any level in the country must resign their current position in order to run for another one. Then you don’t have people throwing their hat into the ring, knowing full well that if they don’t get elected, they have a job to return to.
      I could give them twelve years in Congress – no more. No sitting in the House for 10 years, then running for the Senate to give themselves a promotion. If you don’t have enough years of eligibility to serve a full term, you can’t run for that office; e.g. if you’ve been in the House for 8 years, you’re ineligible for the Senate because you only have 4 years of eligibility [remaining]. And…if you’ve run for office within Congress for (someone name a figure) attempts, you’re done running. Sort of like the sports’ HOFs: you’ve got what(?) 10 years of eligibility and then you’re no longer eligible.
      Next question: term limits for SCOTUS?

    4. Politicians come up for review every few years. If they stink so bad, why don’t we get rid of them?

      That’s why I don’t think the solution is term limits. You need to go bigger.

      Maybe no contributions allowed by individuals or companies, replaced by publicly funded elections, and completely revise how primary elections are held. Maybe something similar to the jungle primaries in Louisiana.

      Throw in a ban on using voter results or registration data when districts are drawn and maybe you’re getting somewhere.

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