VOTING IN INDIANA
Register to vote at any BMV office or most public libraries, or register online at www.IndianaVoters.com
Voter registration deadline: Oct. 11
Absentee ballot: Applications available at every county election board or online at IndianaVoters.
First day to vote early (Absentee): Oct. 12
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By RICK SUTTON
Conventions are in the rear-view mirror. Republican and Democratic ballot musical chairs complete. Now it’s time to hunker down, relive Olympic glory a few times, and work on Hoosier LGBT voting efficiency.
And it kinda depends on where you live.
Why is that? Because Indiana’s meddling legislature determines how you’ll vote in November (or before). Early voting is allowed – but the process must be approved by each county’s Election Board by unanimous vote. Here’s a primer on that process:
Each county has an Election Board. Three persons. Democratic chairperson, Republican chairperson, County Clerk, so it’s always bipartisan. Great idea, huh? Yeah – until a critical voter access issue arises.
This will be a column about Indiana voter and ballot access. I will not re-litigate the state’s ridiculous Voter ID law – it’s likely to be revisited after this election, in the wake of at least one federal judge’s ruling elsewhere.
Early voting is becoming more and more popular. Folks are busy. But guess what? If you live in a populous Democratic county – think: Marion (Indianapolis) – there will be no widespread attempt to offer up multiple voting sites and times.
In Lafayette, folks get along sufficiently for a unanimous Election Board vote to move voting to grocery stores on several days prior to each election. Staffed with paid county election workers and wonderful volunteers, this popular vote option helps Tippecanoe County Democrats and Republicans equally. They don’t fuss about it – they just vote. In large numbers.
But not in the state’s capital city.
Marion County Republicans have cast the sole vote against expanded vote centers since 2008. That was a notable election – Barack Obama won the state, in large part because of his Marion County margin.
For the first time since 1964, Indiana’s electoral votes went to a Democrat, and the Republican powers-that-be weren’t going to let that happen again.
In 2008, vote centers around Marion County – at high schools – provided multiple early-vote options. Folks loved it. Sometimes the lines were wrong, but it gave voters multiple days to step up and do their part for democracy.
And the bipartisan Marion County Election Board couldn’t get a unanimous vote on this issue ever again. Marion County hasn’t had vote centers since. You want to vote early? You have one in-person option: come to the City-County Building downtown and fight for a parking spot.
You can also vote by absentee – in effect, when you vote early, in person, that’s what you’re doing anyway, but that’s a confusing technicality. Absentee voting by mail requires an application, sent to the Election board, and a returned ballot, also by mail.
Why is voting so difficult? You decide. But the one time it was easier, a Democrat won the presidency.
Managing Editor Rick Sutton also covers politics for The Word. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.