Campbell condemns voter suppression in Indiana’s 2020 primary elections

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Representative Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette) expressed her discontent as data from the June primary election demonstrated voter suppression as an outcome of the negligent decision to not extend absentee ballot deadlines.

The Holcomb administration ignored the pleas and warnings from clerk's offices and voters, who feared the insurmountable challenges posed by extremely high absentee ballot intake would lead to votes not being counted. It's estimated that in Campbell's area of Tippecanoe County nearly 2,000 absentee ballots weren't received in time to be counted in the election.

“Indiana, like the rest of the nation, is experiencing unprecedented circumstances as we face both a public health crisis and civil unrest all while trying to conduct an election,” Campbell said. “Elections are the cornerstone of American democracy, and elected officials must ensure they're administered in a way that prioritizes accessibility, safety and efficacy. That's why I was initially pleased with expanded voting options in the 2020 primary elections that were intended to mitigate the adverse effects of current circumstances and allow for expanded participation. However, I'm beginning to see these efforts as farcical after hearing stories from voters indicating widespread problems with absentee ballots that could've been prevented.”

Secretary of State Connie Lawson received a letter from the Marion County Clerk highlighting her fear that potentially thousands of ballots would be left uncounted, citing high demand and strained resources as Indiana quickly transitioned from a vote-in-person operation to a vote-by mail operation. The Marion County Clerk requested a three-day extension, which Lawson declined and remained firm in her stance that deadlines were deadlines.

Over half a million Hoosiers requested absentee ballots for the 2020 primary elections, a stark contrast from 2016 numbers showing only 48,000 residents of Indiana voting by mail. Many voters reported experiencing issues at all stages of the voting process, leaving them voiceless in this election.

Republicans on the Indiana Election Commission rejected multiple proposals from Democrats that would have loosened restrictions for the primary election and potentially avoided this outcome. Proposals included a measure that would have allowed voters to submit a request for an absentee ballot eight days before the elections versus the current 12, and another that would have allowed ballots to come as late as three days after the June 2 deadline.

“An extension would've helped ensure that Hoosiers being adversely affected by curfews, travel restrictions and other unforeseen circumstances could still vote and make their voices heard,” Campbell said. “Our nation holds the 'one person, one vote' principle so dearly, and it's heartbreaking to see that damaged by rash and irresponsible decision-making.”

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