INDIANAPOLIS | After yet another Indiana election marked by dismal voter turnout, state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, believes the General Assembly has a responsibility to make it easier for Hoosiers to participate in their government.

"We can cross our fingers and hope things get better or we can make some common sense reforms and ensure Hoosiers can exercise their right to vote without jumping through hoops," Tallian said.

Tallian announced Wednesday that she will propose legislation enabling county clerks to keep polling places open past 6 p.m., establishing more satellite early voting sites, easing the process of voting by mail and permitting Election Day registration for new voters.

"It is difficult to say whether low voter turnout is due to busy lives, procedural difficulties or voter apathy," Tallian said. "However, as legislators, it is our obligation to do as much as we can to minimize the obstacles caused by the first two sources and that is what I intend to address."

Under her plan, which could be considered by the Legislature in January, all Hoosiers automatically would be registered to vote when they obtain a driver's license, unless they choose to opt out.

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She also wants lawmakers to study the idea of shifting elections online to save money and make it easier for Hoosiers to participate.

"More than 120 million Americans filed their taxes online last year," Tallian said. "If it is possible to make that process safe and secure, then I believe we should take a serious look at what it would take to move elections firmly into the 21st century."

Similar ideas proposed in prior years have failed to advance in the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

State Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, the chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, did not immediately return a request for comment on Tallian's proposal.

While turnout results are not yet finalized, it appears Tuesday's election will be the fourth in a row where fewer than 3 in 10 registered Hoosier voters cast a ballot.

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