VOTING: OUR MOST SACRED RIGHT IN THE BALANCE
James Wells, Vice President of IYD
The GOP led General Assembly is again attacking out most fundamental right. We are witnessing today an affliction on Democracy.
Before the Indiana General Assembly is HB 1116, a bill designed to suppress the voting rights that Hoosiers have enjoyed for decades.
The amended bill would require a voter to say – under the penalty of perjury – that they can’t vote in person on Election Day or during the state’s 28-day early voting period in order to claim on the reasons a voter needs to absentee vote by mail.
The question is why does that matter? Hoosiers should be asking their state legislators why do we, under the constitution of Indiana and the United States, need to provide an excuse to absentee vote when it’s our right to vote? Should we not have the ability to ensure we can cast a ballot in an election and have a say in the direction our state is going?
When I was in college at Ball State, absentee voting by mail was the most convenient way to exercise my right to vote back home in Gary, IN.
In Indiana, of course I have to check off one of the 11 excuses as to why I’m requesting to vote by mail, although and hear me out on this, it’s my right to vote anyways. This should be a convenience.
The excuse I would check off you may wonder, “The voter has a “reasonable expectation” that they will be out of county for the entire time polls are open on Election Day.”
That excuse made perfect sense to me. I’m a three hours drive away from home on a Tuesday. There was no way I could make it home to Gary to vote and drive back to Muncie in time before classes.
With the option to absentee vote by mail, making that drive when there was a much better option to vote would have called for a strongly worded but much deserved scolding from Grandma for my lack of common sense.
Absentee voting by mail is essential to guarantee that any eligible voter who wants to vote in an election, can. It was convenient, allowed me time to go over my choices on the ballot, and above all allowed me to exercise my patriotic duty to participate in the democracy we all share.
Again the question must be asked, “Why must any excuse be provided when we request a mail-in-ballot?” And why should the General Assembly place limits on our right to vote?
The National Conference of State Legislatures’ Voting Outside the Polling Place report even finds that there are “twenty-six states and Washington, D.C., offer “no-excuse” absentee voting, which means that any voter can request and cast an absentee/mail ballot, no excuse or reason necessary.
Eight states conduct elections entirely by mail which means voters do not need to request a ballot, and instead automatically receive one.”
That’s a healthy mix of rural, urban, and suburban Americans with easier ways to exercise their right to vote.
Where does Indiana fall? With 16 other states that are making it difficult to exercise the right to vote.
We know Indiana can do better in terms of securing the right and access to vote in our State, but the Republicans in the General Assembly would much rather make sure they stay in power over making sure you can vote in an election.
Voting I hope is still an obligation we hold in high esteem for our fellow Hoosiers, because we can all agree that every Hoosier that is a citizen of this country should have the right and access to vote in Indiana.
Hoosiers should expect more from the Statehouse than what is being churned out lately from that building.
Hoosiers should expect a government doing all that it can to expand access to the ballot, ensuring that every voter that wants to exercise their vote should be able to do so without hurdles to jump over.
HB 1116 will do nothing more than keep more Hoosiers from voting, and further locking our fragile Democracy in chains.
If you are afraid of big government, well this is it folks. And I bet it won’t stop there.
What we need are free and fair elections in Indiana! Right now, that’s nonexistent.###