Kersey’s efforts to improve voter turnout taking baby steps at the Indiana State Legislature

February 15, 2017 Clyde Kersey

For immediate release:
Feb. 15, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – Efforts by State Representative Clyde Kersey (D-Terre Haute) to improve voter turnout across Indiana received a small boost today from the House Elections and Apportionment Committee.

Committee members approved a modified version of House Bill 1178 that will enable Hoosiers to register to vote when they obtain or renew their driver’s license, permit or identification card at their local license branch.

The current version of the bill as amended by Elections Committee Chairman Milo Smith (R-Columbus) requires Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) employees to ask Hoosiers if they want to be registered to vote when they come to the branch to transact business.

In its original form, House Bill 1178 would have enabled a person to automatically register to vote, unless stated otherwise, when they obtained or renewed their driver’s license at the BMV.

“This can be considered a step in the right direction,” Kersey said. “However Hoosiers still find it difficult to vote.

“Right now the law in Indiana requires a person to register 30 days before the election,” Kersey added. “However, many Hoosiers forget and consequently are unable to vote. That is why it is imperative that we make it easier for Hoosiers to get registered.”

Indiana’s voter turnout was the 11th worst in 2016 and the lowest in 2014.

“It was my hope that House Bill 1178 would have made the process of registering to vote significantly easier for Hoosiers and would have increased voter turnout throughout the state,” Kersey added. “What happened in committee today was only a baby step, but at least we are moving forward.”

The District of Columbia and 6 other states already have laws set in place for automatic voter registration.

This is not the first time Kersey has authored legislation to increase voter turnout.

In a previous session, he offered various bills that focused on overturning a proposed ban on straight ticket voting, as well as allowing voter registration on Election Day.

Kersey also authored legislation that focused on 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 his previous efforts have been rejected by the GOP.

House Bill 1178 will now move to the House floor for further consideration.