(INDIANAPOLIS) — Legislators have sharply scaled back a bill adding absentee-ballot
Last year, Governor Holcomb worked with the Indiana Election Commission to delay Indiana’s
primary by a month because of the coronavirus 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.
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 application. That provision would have invalidated applications 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, without the potentially confusing match requirement. He says requesting a ballot onlineskirts both Indiana’s voter ID 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 joining Republicans in supporting it, and Greenfield Republican Robert Cherry voting with the rest
of the panel’s Democrats in opposition.
If the House passes the bill next week, the Senate will have to decide whether to accept the changes or negotiate the terms of a final bill.
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