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(INDIANAPOLIS) — Senate Republicans still want to add extra security measures around

absentee ballots.

The House scrapped most of a Senate-passed bill requiring a Social Security or driver’s license

number when you request an absentee ballot. Instead, the chamber voted to add that requirement

when requesting a ballot online.

Salem Republican Erin Houchin, who authored the original Senate bill, says absentee ballots

need the equivalent of the in-person voter ID law. She says there have been cases of

people requesting and casting absentee ballots in someone else’s name, leaving an unsuspecting

voter to show up at the polls and be told he’s already voted. Houchin concedes those cases have

been rare, but says there needs to be zero tolerance for depriving anyone of the right to vote.

County clerks and state election officials have warned the original version of the bill, which

required the same ID number you used when you registered to vote, could end up

disenfranchising voters who don’t remember whether they used their driver’s license or Social

Security card. Houchin’s proposing incorporating a provision from another bill, requiring clerks to

notify voters if their ballot is rejected and give them the opportunity to fix the issue or cast a

provisional ballot.

Houchin’s also taking a second swing at another voting issue the House dropped from the

Senate-passed bill: the postponement of last year’s primary, and the expansion of mail-in balloting

in that election to all voters. The four-person Indiana Election Commission approved those

changes at Governor Holcomb’s urging, following negotiations with the state Republican and

Democratic chairmen, to make voting as safe as possible in the early months of the coronavirus


Houchin contends those actions violated Indiana’s constitution. She argues only the legislature

can change the date or procedures of an election.

Houchin’s original bill would have banned the governor or the commission from taking those

actions. She’s now proposing a little bit of leeway, allowing the 16-member Legislative Council to

bless election changes instead of requiring the full House and Senate to approve, provided an

emergency arises within a month of Election Day.

Houchin and House Elections Chairman Tim Wesco (R-Osceola) are still trying to hammer out a

final version before the legislature’s planned adjournment on Thursday.

The bill is potentially the fourth of the session to second-guess some of the emergency actions

taken during the pandemic last year. Legislators have already given themselves the authority, over

Holcomb’s veto, to call themselves into session to review an emergency declaration. A bill

exempting worship services from any emergency health order is awaiting Holcomb’s signature or

veto. And House and Senate Republicans are finalizing a bill requiring county commissioners to

sign off on stricter local health orders.