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Court ruling: Absentee ballot deadline extended

Good news for November election voters
Posted at 12:09 AM, Oct 01, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS—Hoosiers who vote absentee in the November election have a little extra time for their ballot to get to the county election office.

In Indiana, in order for an absentee ballot to count, the voter must either mail or hand deliver it to their county’s election office. A judge in the Southern District of Indiana ruled Tuesday that anybody who votes by mail can send in their ballot by Nov. 3 and it will still count, as long as their county’s office receives it within 10 days, November 13.

The previous law stated that a person’s ballot had to be received by noon on Election Day for it to count.

The ruling came because of a lawsuit brought to the state by Common Cause Indiana, a non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on voter rights. They argued the requirement of noon on Election Day caused an undue burden on Hoosiers and violated their First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Crystal Hammon was a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

"I had not been informed that it had not been counted," Hammon said. "I was just shocked and surprised that it didn't get counted and there was no system to follow up and tell me."

Hammon is one of the thousands of people who's mail-in ballot wasn't counted during Indiana's Primary Election. She tells WRTV she received the ballot around a week before it needed to be sent back, so it was a quick turn around for her.

"If the lawsuit hadn't been filed, I wouldn't have even known," Hammon said.

Julia Vaughn is the policy director for Common Cause Indiana.

"[As] voters, we don't have any control on that mail-in ballot once we drop it in the slot," Vaughn said. "We're very grateful the judge recognized that voters can't and shouldn't be disenfranchised by this arbitrary deadline any longer. We already allow voters who cast a provisional ballot, those who vote from overseas or the military, they already get the ten day window. We're just extending that window to all mail- in voters."

Vaughn says despite this extension, voters should still plan on voting as early as possible.

"It's important to have a plan in place. Decide now if you're going to vote by mail or in person," Vaugn said.

Even with this extension, some people are still feeling uneasy about mailing in their ballot. Hammon is one of them despite being part of the lawsuit that got the deadline extended

"Once that happened to me, I just decided I would crawl to the polls if I had to. It's too important," Hammon said.