Legislators Scale Back Proposed Absentee-Ballot Requirments

INDIANAPOLIS — Legislators have sharply scaled back a bill adding absentee-ballot requirements.

Last year, Governor Holcomb worked with the Indiana Election Commission to delay Indiana’s primary by a month because of the coronavi8rus pandemic, and allow all voters to vote absentee. The Senate passed a bill declaring only the legislature can do that. But four Republicans joined Democrats in the House Elections Committee to kill that provision. They argue it’s unnecessary, since a bill sent to Holcomb this week would let legislators call themselves into session to review emergency orders. That would give them the opportunity to overrule similar changes in the future.

Gov Eric Holcomb crop

Holcomb has said he’ll veto that bill, but legislators are expected to override him before they adjourn at the end of the month.

The committee also unanimously dropped a provision requiring your Social Security or driver’s license number on your absentee ballot. That provision would have invalidated ballots if the number didn’t match the number used when you registered to vote. Critics warned that could backfire, because some people registered with their driver’s license, some with their Social Security number, and many voters might not remember which they used.

The House will vote next week on the remaining provision, which requires a driver’s license or Social Security number to request an absentee ballot online. Committee Chairman Tim Wesco (R-Osceola) says that plugs a hole in Indiana election security. He says requesting a ballot online skirts both Indiana’s voter I-D law and the signature requirement for mailed or in-person applications. Salem Senator Erin Houchin (R), who authored the original bill, says a constituent complained a relative was told last year she couldn’t vote because someone had already cast an absentee ballot in her name.

The committee approved the slimmed-down bill 7-4, with Terre Haute Democrat Tonya Pfaff (PAFF) joining Republicans in supporting it, and Greenfield Republican Robert Cherry voting with the rest of the panel’s Democrats in opposition.