GiaQuinta: No excuse vote by mail is the only responsible way to hold Indiana General Election
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta (Fort Wayne) today issued the following statement regarding the need to maintain public health and safety during the state's 2020 General Election:
“When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Indiana in March, many Hoosiers wondered how it would be possible to successfully hold an election in May. Holding an election is a challenging task to pull off in a normal year. Throw a worldwide pandemic into the mix and it becomes not only difficult, but hazardous as well.
“In the end, the Indiana Election Commission, with the blessing of Governor Eric Holcomb and Secretary of State Connie Lawson, decided to move the date of the primary election from May 5 to June 2nd and, for the first time, allowed all registered Hoosier voters the opportunity to vote by mail without having to provide an excuse for why they could not vote in-person on election day.
“Expanded vote by mail eligibility for last Tuesday's primary election was an important step in the right direction for voting access. As evidenced by the data leading up to election day, Hoosiers overwhelmingly support the safe, secure and efficient option of voting by mail. Well over half a million Hoosiers requested to vote by mail, over ten times the amount of applications compared to the 2016 primary election.
“Looking ahead to the election in November, it is imperative that we begin making adjustments to the process based on lessons learned from the primary election. Nobody knows what the exact state of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be come this November. However, it's probably safe to assume that a vaccine will not yet exist and without one, many Hoosiers will remain dangerously vulnerable to this disease. We already know vote by mail is a safe and secure way to vote that's popular with Hoosiers. Our state leaders should now be looking for ways to improve efficiencies in the vote by mail process and better prepare local elected officials for an increase in vote by mail balloting.
“I was alarmed to hear Governor Holcomb, Secretary of State Lawson and the Indiana Republican Party chairman voice their support for restricting the ability of Hoosiers to vote by mail in this fall's general election during a press conference last week. Summarily dismissing no excuse vote by mail on ideological grounds is both irresponsible and could place Hoosiers in the difficult position of having to choose between protecting their health and making their voices heard. Interestingly enough, neither Holcomb nor Lawson could provide a reason for their opposition to vote by mail, leaving one to speculate the source of their opposition.
“It could be that Lawson and Holcomb place too much value in some of the malicious rhetoric we hear coming from Washington DC and the false arguments that vote by mail isn't safe or provides an advantage for Democrats. Of course, studies have disproven both of those theories leaving few credible arguments for why Indiana shouldn't join the 34 states and Washington DC that do not require an excuse to vote by mail.
“Indiana should be preparing to hold a safe and efficient election this November, ensuring every Hoosier's voice is heard without having to put their health at risk simply because the Governor and Secretary of State of Indiana disapprove. Hoosiers overwhelmingly exhibited their strong desire and acceptance of voting by mail last week. Governor Holcomb, Secretary Lawson and the Indiana Election Commission must act now and ensure all Hoosiers have the ability to make their voices heard this fall.”