House GOP rejects Hamilton election reform

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INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House Republicans today remained consistent in their opposition to any efforts to reform our state’s archaic election system, rejecting a proposal from State Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis) that would make it easier for Hoosiers to vote through absentee ballot.

The House Republicans turned down an amendment from Hamilton that would have allowed anyone to vote by absentee ballot. The proposal was offered to House Bill 1217.

“People simply are not turning out to vote in Indiana, because there are too many barriers to taking part,” Hamilton said. “Our state routinely ranks among the worst in the nation in voter turnout, and it has become so bad that when we do get a turnout of around 50 percent—as we did last November—it was considered cause for celebration.

“We should not be celebrating these abysmal numbers,” she continued. “We should be doing more to make voting more accessible for Hoosiers, but those who are in charge of state government simply will not support those efforts, as today’s vote proved.”

Hamilton’s amendment would have removed all strings that are attached to Hoosiers who wish to vote by absentee ballot. Currently, those who wish to vote absentee must satisfy at least one of a series of conditions explaining why they are voting in that manner, including illness, disability, age, military service, religion, work responsibilities, and no transportation to the polls.

“Under those conditions, you are asking people to predict that they will not be able to meet certain conditions in order to vote on Election Day,” Hamilton said. “To use just one example, a working mom is being asked to predict weeks ahead of time if she will not be able to get to the polls and vote. Anyone who works is being asked to predict if they are going to be working 12 hours on Election Day. That doesn’t make sense to me.

“This change would give every Hoosier the same chance as we provide to military and public safety officers: to vote by mail,” she noted.

“Give people the ability to vote, and they will take part,” Hamilton said. “We should not be making it more difficult to take part in our elections. It is our obligation as elected officials to provide that opportunity to as many Hoosiers as possible.”

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