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Category: Indiana (page 1 of 3)

Big Changes to Indiana Election Law: Curing Ballots & Private Funds

By all accounts and in unique ways, the 2020 election in Indiana was unprecedented. Like other states, Indiana faced impressive challenges and unexpected changes as a result of the ongoing pandemic, from the first postponement of a previously scheduled primary in Indiana’s two-hundred year history to staggering increases in absentee voting. Indiana legislators relied on both the lessons and the disputes of 2020 to make big changes to Indiana election law.

In 2021, Indiana State Senator Greg Walker introduced Senate Bill 398 and, following approval from the state legislature, Governor Holcomb signed the bill into law in April of this year. This post will focus on two interesting changes to Indiana election law brought about by this bill: new procedures for notifying and curing absentee ballots rejected due to signature mismatching, and private grants to fund local elections.

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Indiana’s Noon Absentee Deadline: Election Officials Report Slow Counting, but No Major Problems

By Emma Merrill

Many Indiana voters were alarmed by Indiana’s voting procedures during the state’s June 2, 2020 primary election—Indiana’s first attempt at a statewide election during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I just got completely disenfranchised,” one voter reported after confronting a polling place that lacked the resources to deal with unprecedent mail-in voter turnout. Another Hoosier described Indiana’s election system as “completely overwhelmed.”

Indiana state law mandates that mail-in ballots must be received by noon on Election Day to be counted. Ind. Code § 3-11.5-4-3. In the run-up to Indiana’s primary, Indiana Democrats lobbied the Republican state administration to extend Indiana’s noon deadline for absentee ballots—to no avail. While Republican Governor Eric Holcomb did issue an Executive Order that shifted the primary date from May 3 to June 2, state Republicans refused to change the absentee ballot deadline’s noon requirement. Ultimately, over ten times as many Indiana voters used mail-in absentee ballots compared to the 2016 presidential primary. The surge in absentee voting resulted in processing and delivery delays for approximately 1800 voters’ mail-in ballots in Marion County, home to a significant community of minority voters. The state election system failed to cope with the pandemic, and voters were disenfranchised as a result.

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Indiana’s Voter ID Law in 2020: College Students Might be the Disenfranchised Voting Population Nobody Expected

By: Emma Merrill

Last year, a group of students at Purdue University in Indiana faced uncertainty about whether they could exercise their franchise rights in local elections. The controversy revolved around Indiana’s strict voter identification law. Julie Roush, a Republican elected as Tippecanoe County clerk in 2018, publicly questioned whether Purdue University’s school ID complied with Indiana’s infamous voter identification law. Roush faced swift public backlash on social media, and Purdue placated Roush’s concerns by adding expiration dates to its student IDs to comply with Indiana state law. Still, incoming Purdue sophomores (who were not issued new IDs last year) may be prevented from using their freshman IDs to vote in fall 2020 elections.

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The Political Posturing Taking Shape Around Indiana’s Early Voting Rights Litigation: Common Cause Indiana v. Marion County Election Board

By: Evan Fraughiger

Common Cause Indiana v. Marion County Election Board is a case arising out of the region surrounding Indiana’s capital, Indianapolis. Following the 2008 election, Republican members of the Marion County Election Board allegedly engaged in a plan to prevent Marion County (the largest county in Indiana) from expanding its early voting sites. Marion County originally had three early voting locations in 2008 but in every subsequent election, that number was reduced to one solitary site. For a more detailed account of the history of this case and the surrounding context, please read my earlier post here.

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The 2008 Election: How Indiana “Hoped to Change” Early Voting Patterns After Obama’s Victory 

By: Evan Fraughinger

 It was late at night on November 4, 2008, and I was watching the election results from my house in Fort Wayne, Indiana. To everyone’s surprise, as Indiana’s results finalized, Barack Obama was declared the winner of the State. This was the first time that a Democratic presidential candidate won Indiana since Johnson’s victory in 1964 and only the second time since World War II. Voter turnout in Indiana’s two largest and most Democratic counties, Marion County and Lake County, largely explained President Obama’s narrow 28,000 vote victory in the traditionally red state. While many Hoosiers celebrated, according to new allegations in a lawsuit filed by Common Cause Indiana and the NAACP, several Republican officials and the Marion County Election Board began planning how to prevent another Democratic upset. 
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Abysmal Voter Turnout and an Electoral Dinosaur: Indiana’s Meaningless Off-Year Municipal Elections

By: Jacob Kipp

All politics is local. That truism (often wrongly attributed to former Rep. Tip O’Neill) has long encouraged politicians to remember the people back home because, ultimately, those people will vote based on the issues that matter to them. But politics is looking a lot less local now. Local concerns have taken a backseat to partisan politics, and local candidates are looking more and more like extensions of their national counterparts. Perhaps these changes can help explain why municipal election voter turnout is plunging across the United States. Indiana, the state with the lowest voter turnout in the country for the 2014 midterm elections, held its most recent off-year municipal elections on November 3.

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The Crossroads of America v. The Lone Star State: Comparison of Indiana and Texas ID Laws

By: Katie Teeters

Voter ID laws are spreading across the country leaving controversies in their wakes. Advocates believe requiring ID is a good way to prevent in-person voter fraud and increase public confidence in the election process, while opponents say that voter ID laws unduly burden the right to vote. Still, a total of 36 states have passed laws requiring a showing of some form of identification in order to vote. This blog post will take a look at voter ID laws and their respective implications in Texas and Indiana.

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Bloated Voter Registration Rolls in Colorado Counties Could Support Implementation of Stricter Voting Requirements

By: Eric Speer

In late August 2015, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving election integrity, found that 10 counties in Colorado have over-inflated voter rolls. Pitkin, Mineral, Hinsdale, San Juan, Ouray, Summit, Dolores, San Miguel, Cheyenne and Boulder Counties were found to have more voters registered than people eligible to vote. This over inflation violates the National Voter Registration Act, which requires “states to keep voter registration lists accurate and current, such as identifying persons who have become ineligible due to having died or moved outside the jurisdiction.”

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Vilified and Disenfranchised: Indiana’s New Law Blocks Sex Offenders from Common Polling Place

By: Jacob Kipp

The public’s sentiment toward sex offenders has long been overwhelmingly negative, fueling an ever-increasing number of legal restrictions. Perhaps the most reviled of all offenders are child molesters, which  have been the target of national registration programs (though such registries are often over-inclusive). Those registries are widely used to restrict sex offenders from being anywhere near schools, parks, or youth centers. But what happens when sex offenders want to exercise their right to vote and are not allowed into their polling place because it happens to be a school?

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16 December Meeting on Alleged Conflict of Interest Too Late for Indiana’s District 22 Voters?

By Staff Writer

Despite allegations to the contrary, District 22 Republican candidate for state representative, Curt Nisly, maintains that his role as the independent contractor responsible for developing the Elkhart County Election Board/Clerk’s website does not create a conflict of interest for him as a political candidate. He denies that the voter information to which he had access during the site development creates a conflict for his candidacy.  One of his opponents, Democrat David Kolbe, alleges that Nisly’s technological expertise and unique access to voter data provided him with an advantage in terms of targeting voters, or at least creates that perception among members of the public.  Continue reading

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