Rep. Tonya Pfaff: Reform Hoosier voting laws

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INDIANAPOLIS - State Rep. Tonya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute) today released the statement below concerning her views on Indiana's voting laws:

In the midst of the global pandemic, Hoosier voters were asked to stay home during the June primary and vote absentee without an excuse. This was a safeguard that was put in place because of COVID-19. In-person voting was still open, but large numbers of Hoosier voters took advantage of this opportunity to vote safely and securely from their kitchen tables. 

Indiana showed that we could conduct an election with no-excuse absentee voting without any incidents of fraud. We showed that not only could our election system handle it, but the change also resulted in more people voting in the primary than normal.

Hoosier common sense says this was a win-win: a safe, secure election that more citizens participated in. What’s not to like about hat?

Fast forward to November, and everything we did to protect our citizens in June was thrown out the window. Indiana was one of only five states that did not expand absentee voting, and instead, we went back to in-person voting during a more dangerous point in the pandemic.

Why did we put more Hoosiers at risk?

The now, all too familiar excuse for doing nothing: “potential voter fraud.”

Well that’s just ridiculous.

We conducted an election in June with no-excuse absentee voting. A recent NPR analysis found that mail-in voting, including absentee voting, has a fraud rate of no more than 0.00006%. Fraud clearly is not the problem in Indiana. The problem is state leaders who purposefully put up barriers that discourage participation in our democracy.

We need to break down those barriers.

Indiana had the 9th worst voter participation rate in the 2020 election.

That is a statistic we should all be ashamed of. Our vote is our voice in a democracy and we need to encourage more people to vote while maintaining the safety of our elections. We need to pass no-excuse vote by mail, same-day voter registration and extend the hours at polling stations.

These are all measures proven to lead to higher voter turnout.

Other states can do this, why not Indiana?

House Bill 1361 is the first step in bringing our elections into the 21st century. My bill extends voter registration deadlines and allows for same-day registration at the polls. Turning away any eligible voter on election day who wants to vote is simply unacceptable.

It's time to take down the barriers of our election system and empower people to use their vote as their voice, instead of continuing to silence them.

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