INDIANAPOLIS — A bill under consideration at the Indiana Statehouse would add new requirements for mail-in voting. Voters would have to provide additional information or a copy of a photo ID.
House Bill 1334 would require voters to include one of the following numbers on an absentee ballot application: their driver’s license number, their nondriver identification card number, the unique identifying number assigned to their voter registration or the last four digits of their Social Security number.
Or, instead of writing any of those numbers, voters could provide a copy of a photo ID that would be accepted at a polling place.
“Whether you’re voting on Election Day, whether you’re voting early in-person, also called absentee voting, or whether you’re voting absentee by mail, let’s have the same standard across the board,” said State Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola), the author of the bill.
Wesco calls the current process of matching voters’ signatures to their registration records “subjective,” adding that he feels it doesn’t provide enough security.
“Especially in the advent of digital electronic signatures, I look at my signature when I sign a screen and it rarely ever looks anything like my personal signature,” Wesco said.
The bill passed in the House with Republican support and was heard Monday by the Senate elections committee.
Brad King, the Republican co-director of the Indiana Election Division, told the committee the measure is a priority bill for Indiana’s new secretary of state, Republican Diego Morales.
“Indiana’s laws, like all election laws, are a balance between guaranteeing access for voters and guaranteeing integrity,” King said.
Wesco argues the bill doesn’t create burdens for voters because it provides options.
But several people who testified Monday disagree.
“The majority of people who vote by mail are elderly or disabled,” said Julia Vaughn, executive director of the nonpartisan organization Common Cause Indiana. “They are the type of voters least able to jump over voting hurdles.”
“We don’t have widespread voter fraud in Indiana, so we’re burdening the voters with this bill, we’re burdening the county clerks with this bill, and I don’t see that it does anything to improve the process to increase the voter turnout,” said Barbara Tully, who testified on behalf of Indiana Vote by Mail and the Indiana League of Women Voters.
Opponents also raised concerns about another part of the legislation that would block state agencies and local governments from sending out absentee ballot applications unless requested by the voter.
“In a state where we already have a poor voting turnout, this is going to make it extra, more difficult for people to vote,” said State Sen. J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis).
The committee did not take a vote on the bill Monday. Wesco said he plans to propose more amendments to the legislation.