For immediate release:
Feb. 16, 2015
INDIANAPOLIS - At a time when voter turnout in Indiana has reached historic lows, House Republicans today rejected a series of reforms offered by State Rep. Clyde Kersey (D-Terre Haute) to get more Hoosiers to the polls.
Kersey’s reforms included overturning a proposed ban on straight ticket voting, as well as allowing voter registration on Election Day and no-excuse absentee voting, entitling qualified voters to vote by mail or absentee ballot, and requiring absentee voting on the four Saturdays before Election Day.
All of these proposals were offered to House Bill 1008, but voted down by the House Republican supermajority.
“In 2014, Indiana had the lowest voter turnout numbers in the nation, with some figures placing it below 30 percent,” Kersey said. “And yet, even though voter apathy seems to be at an all-time high, the supermajorities who control state government in Indiana seem to be looking for even more ways to keep people away from the polls.
“Most of the reforms I offered today have a common link, which is that they all are used by states that have demonstrably better turnout numbers than Indiana,” he continued.
“The exception is removing the ban on straight ticket voting that’s currently in House Bill 1008, and that’s because I have yet to see any rationale for wanting to institute this ban in the first place, “ Kersey said. “I have not seen any sort of study that demonstrates that banning straight ticket voting helps encourage more people to come out and vote. In fact, I would suspect it might discourage some traditional voting groups –particularly seniors – from making the effort to go to the polls.”
Kersey said other states have had remarkable success in implementing some of the reforms he proposed today.
For example, more than half of the states already offer no-excuse absentee voting, with many of them ranking among the leaders in turnout. Seven of the 11 states that use same-day voter registration rank in the top 10 nationally in voter turnout.
“Those who speak against no-excuse absentee voting claim that it’s enough for Indiana to offer early voting, but, once again, there appears to be no concrete reason for preventing it in Indiana,” Kersey said. “The states that are beating us in turnout offer no-excuse voting without any concerns. Why can’t Indiana?
“Having voter turnout numbers of around 30 percent should be embarrassing to anyone who believes in citizen government,” he added. “The more options and flexibility we can provide to voters, the more people will participate in this process. To actively work to prevent these types of options strikes me as counter-productive and simply not good government.”
[Rep. Kersey explains the need for his amendment in this 19-second mp3 clip.]