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Legislation working its way through the statehouse could change absentee voting protocol

If you vote absentee or by mail, changes could be coming to the process.
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Posted at 9:34 PM, Mar 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-06 21:36:14-05

INDIANAPOLIS — In the state of Indiana, if you vote in person, you are required to bring your government issued photo ID to do so. If you vote by absentee or by mail, that's not the case.

A bill that passed out of the House would require people who vote absentee or by mail to attach a copy of their government issued ID to their ballot.

"This is just continuing the effort here in Indiana to make sure that our elections are as secure as possible and that everyone is able to vote — making it easy to vote but hard to cheat, " State Representative Timothy Wesco said.

Wesco is the author ofHouse Bill 1334. During Indiana elections, absentee ballots that are either mailed in or dropped off in person are verified through a voter's signature. Wesco feels that is inadequate.

"I believe this will bring objectivity to the process of verifying an absentee ballot application and that the one requesting it is the individual that they say they are,” Wesco said.

Voting rights groups disagree. Indiana ranks among the bottom 10 states for voter turnout, and advocates say could drop even more with legislation like this.

"It does nothing to continue to safeguard our elections, which are already safe. We have no widespread voter fraud in Indiana, " Barbra Tully with Indiana Vote by Mail said.

Wesco feels that the bill is better aligning absentee voting laws with in-person voting laws.

According to the Indiana Election Division from 2020-2022, 3.5 million absentee ballots were submitted. During that same time, there were only five charges related to voter fraud, which is why voting advocates feel this bill is a solution in search of a problem.

"It's just another thing that they have to think about. So we continually come up with ways in Indiana to make voting harder instead of making it easier while keeping our elections safe," Tully said.

The bill would also require individual voters to request their absentee ballot.

The House approved the bill and on Monday, the Senate Election Committee took testimony on the bill. The committee chair said they will vote on it later.

In January, WRTV's Rafael Sanchez talked to new Secretary of State Diego Morales.

"We have several excuses right now in Indiana for you not to be able to vote in person; they're going to stay the same. That's exactly what I said," Morales said. "During the time that anybody can do that. The only thing that I'm asking is that you need to attach a copy of that photo. I'd make it a little more transparent, if you will."

Sanchez asked Morales if he would support the mass mailing of absentee ballots as done by some states across the country in the name of increasing access to the polls.

“I'm against that," Morales said. "I am going to support the traditional way.”