INDIANAPOLIS — Statehouse Republicans on Wednesday took opening testimony on HB 1264, a dangerous elections proposal that disenfranchises many first time and existing voters, and could run afoul of federal law.
“We all know that we get better policy outcomes when everyone has a voice and a vote,” said Indiana Democratic Party Chair Mike Schmuhl. “This legislation, however, makes it harder for thousands of Hoosiers to vote, including students, military families on the move, and underhoused individuals by treating those who register in-person through their school or BMV as different from those who apply by mail.
“Republicans don’t seem to trust the work of their own county clerks and voter registration officials, who took an oath and work hard everyday to defend our democracy and our elections. The last thing they need to keep our elections safe is more onerous, time-consuming requirements. Even more, Hoosiers don’t want their voter data being funneled through the systems of private corporations that could lead to serious data errors – or people being removed from registration records.”
State Republicans want to burden Indiana’s 92 county clerks and voter registration offices with another check of addresses against unreliable private data, and kicking those off the rolls who do not comply. This is a multi-million dollar process largely already mandated by state law which occurs on a rolling, bi-annual basis to keep Indiana’s voter database secure. This bill simply wastes millions in taxpayer dollars and could kick someone off the voting rolls if Experian or a similar private company doesn’t have matching information, like a student without a credit card, for example.
First-time registrants who have their registration hand delivered to the applicable county election office face burdensome new registration requirements. Those who register through the mail or online would not face such extra hurdles.
Currently, first-time registrants who register to vote by mail must provide proof of residency before or when casting their absentee ballot or on Election Day. Under this proposal, applicants who had their registration hand-delivered will now be placed in an indefinite “pending” status until they have provided their proof of residency to the county voter registration or clerk’s office before their name will appear on any poll list. This means this group of first time voters will not be eligible for an absentee ballot until their registration becomes active or on Election Day if they take extra steps to provide proof of residency to cast a regular ballot.
This is a move to try and make it harder for civic-minded groups like the League of Women Voters, and school and library districts to help people register to vote. Republicans wish to make it harder for more students, those in transient housing situations, including the elderly and military families, to vote.
Simply put, House Republicans obviously do not trust the work of Indiana’s county clerks and election workers. Despite any evidence to the contrary, they are second-guessing the work of Indiana’s mostly Republican voter registration officials.
The bill’s citizenship requirements would also rely on often faulty private data, and a similar provision in an Arizona election law has been temporarily blocked by a federal district court.