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Indiana House rejects call for no-excuse mail-in voting
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2021 Indiana General Assembly

Indiana House rejects call for no-excuse mail-in voting

Prepping for general election

Jeanne Moseley, election clerk at the Lake County Board of Elections and Registration, sorts through mail-in ballots and their corresponding applications Oct. 5 at the Lake County Government Center in Crown Point.

Indiana is unlikely to join the nearly three dozen states across the country that allow every resident to vote by mail in every primary and general election.

On Thursday, the Republican-controlled House overwhelming rejected a Democratic proposal to eliminate the requirement that Hoosiers satisfy at least one of 13 possible excuses to vote by mail, and instead permit all registered voters to cast their ballot through the mail.

Precinct clerk Rick Bakker explains what sanitization protocols and PPE equipment are available for poll workers and voters at Schererville Town Hall. Video by Kale Wilk.

State Rep. Tonya Pfaff, D-Terre Haute, proposed the no-excuse mail-in ballot amendment to House Bill 1365, which addresses a variety of election issues.

Pfaff said Hoosiers clearly are interested in voting by mail since turnout was up in the 2020 primary election when all voters were allowed to request and submit a mail-in ballot due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Indiana showed that we could conduct an election with no-excuse absentee voting without any incidents of fraud,” Pfaff said.

“If we really consider ourselves representatives of the people, we need to show our constituents that their voices truly matter. We must allow for no-excuse absentee voting and other voting reforms. It is past time we bring our voting system into the 21st century.”

In response, state Reps. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola, and Matt Lehman, R-Berne, said Indiana always has been an in-person voting state with mail-in options for individuals who cannot make it to the polls due to age, disability, employment, or other specific reasons.

Wesco said in-person voting is more secure than mail-in balloting, and Lehman pointed out most Indiana counties provide up to 30 days for individuals to vote in-person ahead of the 12 hours polling places are open on Election Day.

“If I can get to work and to the grocery store and everywhere else, I can stop on the way home and vote,” Lehman said.

The House ultimately voted 66-28 to reject Pfaff’s call for no-excuse absentee voting in Indiana.

Data show Indiana ranked in the lowest fifth of states for voter turnout during the 2020 general election.

Gallery: Election Day 2020 in NWI

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