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Republicans reject effort to expand vote-by-mail to all Hoosiers

A Senate committee rejected an effort Monday to allow anyone to vote absentee by mail in Indiana.

The rejection comes as a bill to add greater voter ID requirements to vote-by-mail heads to the full Senate.

The bill, HB 1334, requires voters who mail in an application to vote by mail to include either their driver’s license, state ID or voting ID number, or a photocopy of a photo ID they can use for voting.

Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola) said his bill simply extends voter ID requirements used for in-person voting to voting by mail.

“I’ve long felt that the process of simply matching signatures as the means of verifying the authenticity of an absentee ballot application is insufficient and extremely subjective,” Wesco said.

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Democrats objected, saying Wesco’s bill creates an unnecessary hurdle. But Sen. J.D. Ford (R-Indianapolis) said if they’re going to add this requirement, then vote-by-mail should be open to everyone. He proposed an amendment to eliminate the excuses needed to cast a mail-in ballot.

“Essentially, I’m just asking why the government needs to know,” Ford said.

Most Republicans on the Senate Elections Committee rejected Ford’s proposal, without explanation. Sen. Greg Walker (R-Columbus), who has long advocated for no-excuse absentee voting, supported the amendment.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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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.