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Voter Advocates Sue Over Indiana's Absentee Ballot Deadline

(Justin Hicks/IPB News)

Common Cause Indiana and the Indiana NAACP are suing Indiana in federal court over what they say is its “unjustifiably early” deadline to return absentee vote-by-mail ballots.

There’s increased attention on vote-by-mail this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deadline for an Indiana voter to return a vote-by-mail ballot to their county election office is noon on Election Day. That’s unusual – in most states, the ballot must be returned by the end of day (or even just postmarked by Election Day).

Common Cause and the NAACP want to change that, making the deadline an Election Day postmark.

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana 2020 Two-Way. Text "elections" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on COVID-19 and the 2020 election.

Common Cause Indiana policy director Julia Vaughn said, with a surge in mail-in voting because of the pandemic, the current deadline will leave thousands of votes uncounted.

President of the NAACP Indiana State Conference Barbara Bolling-Williams calls the deadline “arbitrary” and a barrier to the right to vote.

There are also ongoing lawsuits over other parts of Indiana election law, including an effort to expand vote-by-mail to any voter this fall.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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