INDIANAPOLIS — President Joe Biden and democrats in Congress are working to expand voter access. Republicans on the federal level challenge those efforts, saying restrictions protect election integrity. So, where do Indiana leaders stand on this issue?
“I think it needs to be easy to vote and hard to cheat,” said Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R). “Technology by the way, can be a big help and factor on this front.”
Holcomb said he is staying involved on this topic.
“I’ll be talking to the White House today on a number of issues and we will work with our federal partners and it goes all the way down to the precinct level,” said Holcomb.
On the state legislative level, there is a bill to address a number of concerns that came from the 2020 election, including the deadline to turn in an absentee ballot, the vote by mail signature review process, and private donations toward election operations.
“Here in Indiana, we have had people offer to pay to put a vote center in a location that they like. We just don’t think that that works, we don’t think that you should be able to buy where a vote center goes,” said Valerie Warycha the Republican General Counsel in Elections with the Indiana Election Division.
Indiana voting rights groups like Vote by mail and Common Cause want the absentee ballot deadline to be 6 pm on election day for every voter. The bill currently makes the deadline noon on election day for counties without electronic pollbooks.
“It would create confusion amongst voters,” said Barbara Tully with Vote by Mail.
An amendment develops a process to ensure voters did not turn in an absentee ballot and then cast another ballot in person but the vote on the amendment was scheduled for another time.
“I believe there’s strong support for providing financial assistance for those counties that currently are still using the paper ballot,” said bill author State Sen. Greg Walker. “Helping them financially to bring their technology up to where they will have a consistent process with all 92 counties.”
“We can’t just have faith that counties are going to take up the Secretary of State’s offer to provide electronic pollbooks,” responded Julia Vaughn with Common Cause.
“Having two different deadlines for absentee ballots to be returned to the county is a nightmare for county election administrators,” said Angela Nussmeyer, Co-director of the Indiana Election Division. “Particularly, if the counties are next door to each other.”
This issue and several other election related concerns will be debated again.
The committee chair decided not to hold a vote on the bill Tuesday, but one is expected soon.
To learn more about the legislation, click here.