Indiana Sued To Extend Absentee Ballot Deadline

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Indiana Sued To Extend Absentee Ballot Deadline As Pressure Mounts To Allow Voting By Mail

By Isaac Gleitz
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS—Common Cause Indiana and the state conference of the NAACP have filed a lawsuit to force Secretary of State Connie Lawson and members of the Election Commission to count absentee votes past the current noon deadline on Election Day.

The lawsuit, filed late Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, comes as state officials are facing increasing pressure to allow no-excuse absentee voting for the Nov. 3 general election because of the health threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic that has already claimed 150,000 American lives.

Former Lt. Govs. John Mutz, upper left, and Kathy Davis, lower right, joined Pierre Atlas, a Marian University political science professor, at a virtual press conference to call for Indiana to allow mail-in voting in the Nov. 3 general election. TheStatehouseFile.com

Barbara Tully, president of the Indiana Vote By Mail, a nonpartisan advocacy group, is leading the charge for mail-in voting options in the general election, but she also disagrees with the noon rule.

“We have this very arbitrary deadline of noon on election day, which doesn’t speak well for voters who might not be able to get their ballot bag and drop it off until 2 p.m., and then suddenly their vote doesn’t count,” Tully said Friday during a virtual press conference called to urge no-excuse mail-in voting on Nov. 3.

State officials have resisted changes to Indiana’s voting laws, keeping the noon deadline in place when the Election Commission approved no-excuse absentee ballot voting in the June 2 primary. The original May 5 primary was delayed a month because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which so far has claimed 2,765 lives, while another 66,154 have been diagnosed with the disease, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

The lawsuit says “even in the best of times the Noon Election Day Receipt Deadline disenfranchises voters, this is not the best of times. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a number of new and significant challenges for voters and election officials, including serious health risks to in-person voting and significant delays in mail-in ballot delivery.”

In the June primary, there were delays in the transmission of ballots to voters and then back to election officials, resulting in thousands of otherwise valid ballots being rejected because they were received past noon on Election Day, the lawsuit says. In Marion County, 1,514 ballots were rejected and 435 were rejected in Hamilton County, even though they were postmarked before June 2.

“The expected increase in the number of Indiana voters using a mail-in option for

the November 3, 2020 election due to the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with continuing

delays in mail delivery, mean that even more voters face likely disenfranchisement because of an inability to comply with the Noon Election Day Receipt Deadline,” the suit says.

The lawsuit asks the court to order the Election Commission to allow ballots to be counted for up to 10 days past the election as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3.

The deadline won’t be as big an issue if state election officials continue to resist allowing more Hoosiers to cast their ballots by mail.

Indiana is among a handful of states where residents need to have a valid reason why they can’t vote in-person. A registered voter can get an absentee ballot if they will be gone or working during all 12 hours that the polls are open. Thirty-four states have no-excuse voting by mail.

During Friday’s virtual press conference, Tully was joined by Pierre Atlas, a Marian University political science professor, and two former lieutenant governors, Republican John Mutz and Democrat Kathy Davis, who urged state election officials to allow mail-in voting in November.

“We have gathered here for the purpose of urging the election commission and the governor to act,” Mutz said, adding that the Election Commission needs to give local election officials plenty of time to set up processes to mail out the ballots and then count them when they are returned.

“This is a fundamental aspect of democracy, and we should not be going around trying to restrict it, given where we are today where voting could be dangerous,” Atlas said. “What we’re talking about is guaranteeing the fundamental right of all Americans… to have the right to vote securely and safely in the middle of a deadly pandemic.”

Nine Democrats—one from each of Indiana’s congressional districts—have also signed a petition calling for the state’s Election Commission to meet.

Mutz and Davis rejected arguments that have come from President Donald Trump that voting by mail will lead to widespread fraud. Both said that they have never seen cases of voter fraud in their years in politics.

Wednesday, at his weekly virtual press conference to discuss the state’s handling of the pandemic, Gov. Eric Holcomb said that Hoosiers will have opportunities to vote safely in person in November because of early voting options.

Mutz, who served as lieutenant governor under Republican Robert Orr in the 1980s, said he believes the resistance from officials like Holcomb and others to mail-in voting comes from Washington D.C.

“I think local officials are concerned about what Donald Trump will think,” he said, and Davis agreed.

FOOTNOTE: Isaac Gleitz is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Mutz is a tool for the liberal left now. He was never a conservative, just a Republican. The only reason he was Lt. Governor was because the state GOP thought Evansville’s Orr wouldn’t carry enough Indy and northern Indiana votes without a known name on the ticket. Period.

    • You have a problem Bernie.

      YOU are not a Conservative.

      Anyone tolerant of a President who’s first term includes 18% Real Unemployment – the worst in 60 years….and who is so ANTI-BUSINESS they would tolerate Trump destroying GDP and a 33% drop in American business…

      IS NOT A CONSERVATIVE!!!

      Trump has the worst economic record of any President in US history.

      • You have multiple problems, Anti-Trumper, not the least of which is intellectual integrity. An 8th grade average student wouldn’t blame OUR President for the economic downturn we are having at present. They would be able to ascertain we are in the midst of a pandemic.

        You, on the other hand, are merely here to try to discourage Trump supporters with your childish on going feeble posts. Nobody, but NOBODY, believes you are in anyway a conservative. I would guess you’re a tool of the local “Divisive” chapter lapping at the dish of delusion.

          • Your post makes no sense. I personally know about twenty Schaefers. Which one do you speak of? And don’t insult the VFW by using as an alias.

          • Bernie boy here, is an infant.
            He’s using an alias, and is upset with someone using an alias!
            But let’s not stop there.
            He claims he’s a conservative, yet is fine with 33% reduction in GDP under President Trump!
            What?
            You’re a commie, right?
            You’re anti-business, right?

            What the hell are you thinkin’ man?

            This thing with Trump is ENDING.
            Trump has to turn this around, and can’t because he didn’t stop the COVID outbreak from eating the economy alive.

            Sucks to be Bernie. Sorry dude. You are losing.

  2. If all of those who claim that extending the deadline for mail in voting, I have one comment: your reasoning is flawed. They could have dropped tbeir ballot in the mail one or two days ealier.

    I personally voted absentee six times, four from France and two from California. Five of these ballots counted. The sixth dod not count because I did not receive that sixth ballot ontil the day before election day. At that time the ballot had to be in your precinct on election day. I do not know whether it was the fault of the election office or USPS. It happened in the Nixon-Kennedy year and it still irks me.

    Regarding no fault absentee voting, it is pure BS. With early voting, the existing law should stand.

  3. Just another liberal plan to help democrats cheat. Democrats either know or think that other democrats, mostly low income democrats are too ignorant and stupid to get ID and figure out how to vote. Most democrats are pros at navigating benefit programs and living without working so getting a little extra money to vote shouldn’t be a problem. I always wondered about who it is that pays all these liberals to muddle the system. I think when you teach people to lie, cheat and steal at a young age, which is a democrat control technique, is the reason we have Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, New York as proof their system works. If you’re too stupid to figure out how to vote, you’re probably too stupid to understand the consequences of voting democrat, apparently the people of Chicago are the most stupid voters in the world.

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