INDIANAPOLIS — Election-day voter registration and expanded vote-by-mail opportunities some day may be features of Indiana's elections, but state lawmakers are unlikely to put them in place before Hoosiers cast their ballots next year.
The General Assembly's Interim Study Committee on Elections agreed Thursday that Indiana officials should continue exploring those and other ways to improve voter participation while preserving ballot security.
However, the panel did not recommend any specific proposals for the 2018 Legislature to consider, and the committee chairman, state Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, said members only have begun developing preliminary ideas on ways to move forward.
The lack of a study committee endorsement does not prevent any of the 150 state lawmakers from filing voting-related proposals when the 10-week legislative session begins in January.
Though state Rep. Kathy Richardson, R-Noblesville, vice chairwoman of the House Elections Committee, said it won't be possible to evaluate, adopt and implement major voting changes prior to the May primary election and the general election in November 2018.
"It's too soon," Richardson said. "I do think it's something that we're willing to look at and see if we can learn from other states, what they've done and make sure that we don't make some of the same mistakes that maybe they made and go from there, but I think 2018 is too soon."
The study committee also applauded Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson for purging nearly half a million long inactive voters with outdated addresses from the state's registration rolls in April.
It urged Lawson and county clerks to continue keeping the voter lists as accurate and up-to-date as possible.