EDITORIAL: Make mail-in voting available to all Hoosier voters this fall

Keywords Editorials / Opinion

Allowing Indiana voters to cast their ballots by mail in this fall’s election—regardless of whether they have a reason like being out of town—is a no-brainer.

In a pandemic, we don’t want people waiting in line to cast votes in person—just like we don’t want them crowded together anyplace else.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and other state leaders made that smart decision for the primary. Did it go without a hitch? Nope. There were some voters who—because of delays in the U.S. mail and delays in fulfilling requests for ballots—did not receive their absentee ballots in time to return them. And it took longer than usual to count the ballots across the state, meaning the outcome of some close races took a day or two to determine.

But overall, we believe voting by mail—for those who want to do so—worked just fine. And we think it improves access and keeps the community safer.

And so it is beyond our comprehension that state officials have not yet taken steps to allow voting by mail in November for anyone who wants it.

After all, state law already allows voting by mail for anyone who has a specific, reasonable expectation they will be unavailable to go to the polls while they are open. Also for anyone who has a disability or is at least 65 years old or is scheduled to work for the 12 hours the polls are open or doesn’t have transportation. In addition, you can vote by mail if you expect to be confined due to illness or injury or will be caring for someone who is confined. Or if there is religious reason you will be unavailable. Or if you are a “serious sex offender” as defined by state law.

So really, would it be so terrible to let folks who are trying to stay safe vote by mail?

We are not alone in advocating to make vote-by-mail an option for November. Common Cause Indiana, the League of Women Voters of Indiana, the Greater Indianapolis NAACP and the ACLU of Indiana advocate expanding vote-by-mail to November.

Former Lt. Govs. John Mutz, a Republican, and Kathy Davis, a Democrat, are also pushing for a change for November as well.

But Holcomb has not been persuaded. “We are in a much better situation now than we were there when we delayed it,” Holcomb said, according to Indiana Public Radio. “And we have the proper PPE to man the voting sites.”

We are far less convinced that Indiana is “in a much better situation now,” given the way COVID-19 cases have been on the rise. So what gives? Mutz says the governor is feeling pressure from President Donald Trump, who opposes mailed ballots (although this week, he seemed to say they were OK for Florida).

But we believe Holcomb will look beyond any political pressure and try to do what’s right for Hoosiers. That’s making mail-in ballots available to all Hoosier voters. We encourage state officials to announce that now, so that county election officials have time to prepare and adjust.

It’s the right thing for these tough times.•

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15 thoughts on “EDITORIAL: Make mail-in voting available to all Hoosier voters this fall

  1. If you can go out to the grocery, you can go to the polls.

    And before you start talking about needing an ID being a deterrent to voting- I personally think if you don’t have an ID- this means you don’t drive, drink alcohol, see rates R movies, smoke or fly on a plane or any of the thousands of other things that require an ID, so therefore you really dont participate in society and dont deserve to vote.

    1. So if I have COVID-19, I should go stand in line with others to vote? Makes total sense.

  2. System can handle (kind of) the absentee system. Still issues every year….but all in all pretty good. System not set up for 10 to 20 to 100 times the traffic. No ID check. Disaster in waiting x 1,000 all over the country.

  3. The IBJ really missed the point on this one. Anyone who thinks that this will not allow voter fraud on a massive scale is very naive. It is not that hard during a 12 hour day to cast a vote. I do not think there would be anything wrong with making it a holiday or extending hours as a compromise, but it is not really needed and the current method is no that difficult. Many people exaggerate the effort needed as if it were some type of Olympic event. Let’s be honest: people do what they WANT to do.

    1. There is little to no evidence to support your assertion of large-scale fraud and a mountain of evidence refuting it.

    2. For all those who say that voter ID isn’t a big deal, then I’m sure you’d be OK with requiring masks to cast a vote in person this year, right?

      The other factor not discussed is how many polling places will be available on Election Day. Many end up being schools that likely won’t be able to accept the general public during a pandemic on a school day. Throw in the number of poll workers who can’t or won’t take the risk of contracting the virus …

      This ends up being an issue in big cities, which trend Democratic, so it’s little wonder that the Republican state government cares to help Democrats vote.

      A quick move to vote centers open for the two weeks before Election Day would help greatly in this regard. Most counties already have vote centers, but Marion County Republicans would likely drag their feet on further spread as it’s really their best chance to influence who wins races like the 5th District. (Make it hard for the Democrats in Marion County to vote, make it easy for the Republicans in Hamilton County to vote.)

      Finally, for those who say there’s no risk … studies say otherwise. Only difference between here and Wisconsin would be masks, which are “required” here.

      =====

      Study co-authored by Ball State professors finds link between in-person voting and spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin

      “significant association between in-person voting and the spread of COVID-19 two to three weeks after the April primary in Wisconsin. Their research also suggests in-person voting was related to about 700 more COVID-19 cases in the state during the weeks following the election.”

      https://fox59.com/news/coronavirus/study-co-authored-by-ball-state-professors-finds-link-between-in-person-voting-and-spread-of-covid-19-in-wisconsin/

  4. If people can wait in line at Costco, Kroger, and Walmart they can show up to vote just like every other year. If people can be crammed into airplanes with masks on – clearly less than 1 ft from each other – they can show up to vote. If the argument is about “safety”, it is a false argument.

    However, does that mean that people shouldn’t be allowed to vote through mail-in or electronic voting? of course they should. In a modern society that seems reasonable that this should be an option if for no other reason that pure convenience. Things are done electronically all of the time. However, the majority of Americans have little faith in the accuracy of electronic voting, especially with constant examples of fraud or inaccurate counting. It is rampant with literally hundreds of examples, including this year in primaries. It is not up for debate, both sides have acknowledged it.

    This isn’t a Republican vs Democrat thing, nor is it a safety issue, it is simply the ability to participate in our most fundamental right as Americans – the ability to legally vote and have that vote accurately counted. Let the chips fall where they may. This isn’t a partisan issue. Both sides accuse the other of trying to “steal” elections and the American people are sick of it. There is near ZERO faith in our voting process, especially in mail-in counting. So please stop with the soapbox of saying that “in a pandemic” it is essential. It’s not. We know it. You know it. And until you can prove that mail-in and electronic voting is bulletproof, you will NOT get mass buy in. Period.

    1. Most all of the voting machines approved after the 2000 fiasco were insecure and should have never been purchased. They were a waste of tax dollars.

      Voting should require a paper ballot. Electronic voting systems used to count ballots (if governments choose to use them) should be open source so everyone can see how they work. But it feels like the best solution is to have regular people count ballots in the open.

      And if the election dates need to be changed to give governments more time to count the votes, so be it.

  5. We all know that voting remotely is the right thing to do during a pandemic. The likelihood of spreading a highly infectious and deadly virus is exponentially higher than the likelihood of someone attempting the federal crime of voting fraudulently.

    Also, pretending that the one’s right to vote somehow outweighs the right to stay alive is a bridge way, way too far, even if you are desperately worried that your preferred candidate (or political party) might not come out on top. You have allowed yourself to be tricked by embarrassingly weak arguments.

  6. In an ideal world, voting my mail would be great. However, those who really want this also don’t want voter IDs. What about signatures? Counting? I don’t think it is possible to prevent all the fraud made possible by mail-in voting. It isn’t that simple to simply say it’s the right thing to do. It would be right if not fraught with wrongs made possible by lack of checks. Biden has been lucky he does not need to speak without a script, and now just mail all a ballot and use the honor system. Read the WSJ instead of IBJ for the best information and insights.

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