Proposed Indiana voting law change faces corporate criticism

One of Indiana’s most prominent corporations is criticizing an Indiana proposal that opponents maintain will make mail-in voting more difficult by requiring voters to submit identification numbers with their ballot applications.

The bill’s Republican sponsors say it is aimed at preventing voter fraud by having similar voter ID requirements for mail voting as the state has for in-person voting at polling sites.

Stephen Fry, Eli Lilly and Co.’s senior vice president for human resources and diversity, told a legislative committee Tuesday that the company believed the bill wasn’t needed and that state officials acted correctly to allow no-excuse mail-in voting for the spring 2020 primary because of COVID-19 concerns.

The Indiana bill is among a wave of GOP-backed election proposals that were introduced in states around the country after former President Donald Trump made unproven claims that fraud led to his 2020 election defeat.

“It serves only to confer acceptance of the widespread falsehood that there is something to be questioned about the outcome of last year’s election,” Fry said. “This effort and others like it, albeit using different language, only serve to perpetuate the narrative that the 2020 election outcome was flawed or compromised in some way.”

The proposal would require a voter to submit their 10-digit Indiana driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on their mail-in ballot application. Bill opponents say that process will lead to many applications being rejected because voters won’t know which number is on file with their county election office and some older voter registration records include no such numbers.

The bill would also prohibit the state election commission from changing an election date or expanding mail-in voting options as it did by delaying the 2020 primary by a month with the support of Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana GOP and Democratic state party leaders.

The public stance of Indianapolis-based Lilly, a pharmaceutical company with some 12,000 employees in the state, against the proposal comes as major corporations have faced pressure to denounce Republican efforts to change voting laws in Georgia, Texas and other states.

Fry spoke after Republican Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita testified in support of the bill, calling it a commonsense change that ensures the verification of voter identities and the authority of the Legislature over when elections are conducted.

“For many Americans, as a result, the 2020 election has shaken their confidence, including thousands of Hoosiers,” Rokita said. “It has created profound unease, if not outright distrust, about the results.”

Republicans pushed the bill through the state Senate in February. The House elections committee could vote Thursday on whether to advance it to the full House.

Some Democratic elections officials said they worried about local election workers having enough time for the additional responsibility of checking ID numbers on mail-in ballot applications and notifying voters about problems ahead of voting deadlines.

Legislative Republicans have blocked efforts by Democrats to ease voting laws, such as the state’s mail-in voting limits that now allow people to vote by mail only if they fall into one of several categories, including being 65 or older or being absent from their home counties on Election Day.

Barbara Tully, president of the group Indiana Vote By Mail, called Rokita’s comments “propaganda” and said she didn’t believe the Legislature was doing anything to improve the state’s 42nd ranking in voter turnout.

“This General Assembly is intent on grinding Indiana voters into a state of apathy about our elections so that fewer voters actually participate,” Tully said.

Bill sponsor Sen. Erin Houchin of Salem said Indiana’s lack of an identification requirement for mail-in ballots was a hole in its election security.

“It’s our responsibility and duty to make sure, through these types of processes, that each person only has one vote,” Houchin said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, we’re just trying to bring it to one person, one vote, no matter how you vote.”

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19 thoughts on “Proposed Indiana voting law change faces corporate criticism

  1. I live in Center Township and we received unsolicited mail-in ballots for the last election for people who hadn’t lived or voted in Marion County in many years. Some sort of voter ID is needed to prevent the misuse of a mail in system. Lilly requires ID to enter its properties in Indy. That is OK but requiring a mail in voter to present ID is not?

    1. No unsolicited ballots were mailed anywhere in Indiana. You may have received something that you thought was a ballot but it certainly was not. If you think you received unsolicited ballots, the Marion County Board of Elections would surely want to hear from you.

  2. The issue is accountability. It is both reasonable and wise that all citizens eligible to vote should have a drivers license or state issued I.D. to validate their voting privileges. Identification is required to drive, hunt, fish, board an aircraft, receive medical care (including Lilly pharmaceutical products), purchase alcohol and tobacco, file a tax return, receive a refund, and countless other day-to-day transactions. None of these is more important than ensuring that those lawfully eligible to vote cast a single vote in their district of residence. Voter I.D. is the best requirement to ensure the integrity of elections and mute claims of election fraud. Opponents don’t want this accountability. The large, global corporations oppose this out of self-interest. Their accounting staff has determined the cost to the corporation of allowing their employees time off away from the workplace to vote, in terms of lost productivity. I favor capitalism as the very best economic system ever practiced throughout history, but no system is perfect. Big businesses like Lilly error on the side of corporate greed when they oppose the accountability of common-sense requirements that ensure the integrity of elections. They then deceive the public as to why they oppose such requirements with lame excuses like “This General Assembly is intent on grinding Indiana voters into a state of apathy about our elections so that fewer voters actually participate”. It is the responsibility of each state government to ensure the integrity of elections. That is exactly what the state of Indiana legislature is attempting to accomplish. Lilly should focus on developing, producing and marketing pharmaceutical medications that improve people’s lives …, and stay out of political debates.

    1. Excellent response. Well thought out. Still suffering from TDS.

      Is makes absolute perfect sense to require ID to vote and it’s shameful that is still not a requirement.

      Corporations are now acting like those on Twitter, making statements and proclamations simply to appeal to the “masses” without actually reading bills or thinking for themselves. It really is quite scary.

    2. Republicans are making changes for two reasons:

      1) They lost the 2020 presidential election and they feel to win in 2024, their best course of action is to reduce the number of people who vote, as opposed to nominating more likable candidates and adopting better policies. (Recall when the always subtle Donald Trump said out loud, “They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again”)
      2) They believe the lie that there was fraud that would have changed the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. There was fraud in the 2020 election … the fraud were the statements made by Donald Trump, even before the election took place, that there was election fraud, that he’s made despite a lack of evidence to the contrary. Trump complained about fraud in the 2016 election, an election HE WON. Subsequent investigation of the 2016 election by Trump uncovered no fraud, and numerous court cases around the 2020 election uncovered … no fraud, and Trump lost every court case, even at the Supreme Court where he had nominated three justices and Republicans have a 6-3 majority.

      Them’s the facts.

      But it it pretty funny that Republicans fought for years to give corporations more of a voice in politics, culminating in Citizens United … and now they’re upset corporations are speaking out. Can’t have it both ways.

  3. After this past corrupt so-called election if people don’t step up and tighten the voting laws then all is lost. Clearly, anyone who would not be in favor of Voter ID has another agenda.

    1. Michael G: If they ever present The Wizard of Oz at Civic Theater, you should audition for the part of The Scarecrow.