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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