As the Indiana Supreme Court wrestles with accusations that the state's voter ID law is an obstacle to casting a ballot, state officials are preparing to offer an additional and, for some, easier way to register to vote.
Any Hoosier with a valid driver's license or state identification card will be able to register or update an existing registration online at www.indianavoters.com starting July 1, according to Jim Gavin, communications director for Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita.
The service is the latest addition to a website that allows voters to confirm their registration, locate polling places, inquire about the status of a provisional ballot, learn which candidates are on their ballot and obtain contact information for local election officials.
The online registration is being made possible because the new system is able to obtain an electronic copy of the applicant's signature from the identification records at the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Gavin said.
The online applications will be routed to election officials in the appropriate county via the Statewide Voter Registration System, he said. It then will be up to those local election officials to confirm or reject the applications or seek more information within a seven-day pending period, he said.
County officials also will have the ability to transfer online registration applications to another county when necessary.
Online registration was approved by state lawmakers last year with bipartisan support. The move is part of an ongoing effort to reduce errors associated with paper-based registration applications.
The new registration effort comes as the Indiana Supreme Court ponders a constitutional challenge to a requirement that voters show a photo driver's license or state ID card before receiving a ballot at the polls.
It was argued in March that the time, cost and effort of obtaining the photo identification pose an unfair burden to some.
The state countered that the requirement is no different than other voting regulations, such as registration, specific voting hours and requiring voters to sign the poll book.
The state's high court is reviewing a September 2009 ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals that found the voter ID requirement runs afoul of Indiana's Constitution by treating in-person voters differently than absentee voters. Mail-in voters do not have the same identification requirement as in-person voters.