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Apr 29 / Project Vote

Groups Call on Indiana Governor to Veto Harmful Election Bill

Governor Pence
Indianapolis – The Indiana legislature yesterday passed election rules that will make it more difficult to register to vote, and increase the risk of improper purges, according to national voting rights group Project Vote. Project Vote is calling on Governor Pence to veto the bill, SB 519.

In recent years, Indiana has been gaining a reputation as one of the states most hostile to voting rights. It was one of the first states to implement strict photo voter ID, and earlier this year the legislature considered a rule to prevent students who pay out-of-state tuition from voting. Now, SB 519 would result in another reduction of voting rights in the state.

“Voting should be free, fair, and accessible to all eligible Indiana voters,” says Michael Slater, executive director of Project Vote. “No eligible voter should be turned away on Election Day because their names have been purged from the rolls. And no eligible voter should risk having their application rejected due to unfair or unclear laws.”

Today, Common Cause Indiana, Gamaliel, Gamaliel of Indiana, Project Vote, and Transforming Action through Power (TAP) wrote to Governor Pence, urging him to veto the bill. Their letter points out a number of problems that would create risks for Indiana voters:

  • SB 519 proposes engaging in a large-scale data-matching program for voter roll maintenance. These sorts of programs have repeatedly proven unreliable, and are likely to remove eligible voters due to mismatching and data entry errors. SB 519 does not contain clear enough safeguards to protect voters from wrongful purging.
  • Federal law ensures that applications postmarked by the voter registration deadline are to be considered submitted on time. However, this bill ignores that law, and contains dangerously vague language about the submission of registrations that could result in confusion and missed deadlines.
  • The bill would change the state voter registration form to require unnecessary and burdensome information from the person collecting an application. This could discourage people from volunteering for voter registration drives. But the larger problem is that, even when an eligible applicant’s information is entered accurately and completely, that registration could be considered “incomplete” because of an error by the canvasser. Additionally, the language of the bill is troublingly vague as to how (or whether) incomplete voter registration applications would be processed.

“As we’ve seen in other states, these kinds of ill-conceived election procedures all increase the likelihood that eligible voters may be disenfranchised,” says Slater. “Governor Pence should reject this bill, and focus on passing laws that make it easier, not harder, for Hoosiers to get and stay on the rolls.”

Photo via Creative Commons license

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