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WVPE News

GOP rolls back election security measure, restricts absentee vote-by-mail

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Lauren Chapman
/
IPB News
Voters who wish to cast their absentee ballot by mail must attest they won't be available on Election Day. A House bill would add that they're also not available in the 28 days before the election, when early voting is available.

Indiana will no longer move up the deadline for counties to install a vital election security measure on their voting machines.
Changes to an elections bill, HB 1116, in a House committee Tuesday will also make it harder for Hoosiers to vote absentee by mail.

Election security experts widely agree that electronic voting machines should use a paper backup system. State law gives counties that use those machines until 2030 to install the paper backups. A bill this session would’ve moved that up to July 2024.

But the House Ways and Means Committee deleted that change because it costs money, about $12 million.

The state currently has a $4 billion surplus.

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At the same time, the committee approved language that says, if you want to vote absentee by mail, you must attest that you won’t be available on Election Day or – and this is the new part – any time in the 28 days before the election, when early voting is available.

"I believe the best policy is to encourage people to vote in person, whether on Election Day or in-person early, as much as possible," said Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola), the bill's author.

Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) said that puts a greater burden on voters, particularly in counties with few early voting locations. And he questioned why the change is necessary.

"I think the answer’s apparent. The answer is, we want to reduce the number of voters. Why don’t you just say that?" DeLaney said.

The bill is headed to the House floor.

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