IN Voter Registration Deadline Oct 5, 29 days before Nov 3, 2020.
- Stage 3 -- No excuse required to vote by mail
Online registration available
Christine Hale lost
• Indiana: A panel of three GOP-appointed judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked a lower court decision that had ruled that ordinary voters had standing to sue in court to seek an extension of Election Day polling hours in the event of voting problems, meaning once more that only county election boards will have that ability. Indiana's polls close at 6 PM, making it the earliest state in the country alongside Kentucky.
• Indiana: The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling requiring that Indiana officials count absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day and received within 10 days. Instead, ballots must be received by noon on Election Day in order to count.
• Indiana: A panel of three Republican-appointed judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against plaintiffs who were challenging a GOP-backed restriction that Indiana voters must present a non-COVID excuse to vote by mail this fall. Plaintiffs had argued that an exemption for voters aged 65 and above violates the 26th Amendment's ban on age discrimination in voting, but the appellate court disagreed in a manner that has potentially far-reaching consequences.
In their ruling, two of the three judges would effectively eviscerate any real protection from age discrimination. The plaintiffs argued that a law restricting the right to vote based on race or sex would violate the 15th Amendment or 19th Amendment, respectively, which the 26th Amendment mirrors with almost-identical language. But the majority wrote that those amendments themselves don't subject suspect voting laws to heightened judicial scrutiny, saying instead that such scrutiny comes from the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause.
The majority's position, in other words, is that the four amendments expanding voting rights—the 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th—don't actually provide protections without the 14th Amendment backing them up. These four amendments, however, all contain the phrase "the right to vote ... shall not be denied or abridged on account of" the category they cover. But since age is not a protected class like race and gender under equal protection jurisprudence, the 26th Amendment would become almost meaningless in practice under this view.
This line of reasoning is almost indistinguishable from the jurisprudence advanced by judges during the Jim Crow era to deny the plain intent of the 15th Amendment when upholding laws that prevented Black citizens from voting in all but name, on the flimsy basis that they didn't explicitly ban African Americans from voting.
These Jim Crow laws, such as literacy tests, generally did not make it impossible for Black voters to exercise their rights in theory, much like the absentee excuse requirement doesn't prevent younger voters from voting in person in theory. In practice, however, Jim Crow rules did make voting impossible for Black voters, just as the pandemic has made in-person voting impossible for many voters.
The 7th Circuit's ruling also opens the door to laws that roll out the red carpet for older voters—a Republican-leaning demographic—and impose additional burdens on younger voters, who typically favor Democrats. It could even let GOP legislators pass laws with illicit racial intent by claiming their motives are based on age instead, since young voters tend to be much more diverse than older ones.
The plaintiffs have not yet indicated if they will appeal further. The possibility of an adverse ruling by the Supreme Court could stay their hand, as such a decision would have the effect of making the 7th Circuit's logic binding on the entire country.
In a separate case, a federal district court has temporarily stayed its ruling for a week after ordering that ballots must count if postmarked by Election Day and received a few days afterward in order to give the 7th Circuit time to consider the GOP's appeal.
• Indiana: A federal court has ordered Indiana to accept mail ballots postmarked by Election Day and received by Nov. 13. Republicans are reportedly expected to appeal. Separately, voting rights advocates say they will appeal a lower federal court ruling that rejected their request that all Indiana voters be allowed to request absentee ballots without an excuse instead of only elderly voters, who typically favor Republicans.
Finally, a federal judge has struck down a state law that allowed only county election boards the ability to seek longer voting hours in the event of problems at polling places. Now individual voters will have the power to seek redress in the courts over such issues.
• Indiana: A federal judge has rejected a request from voting rights advocates to require Indiana officials to allow all voters to request an absentee ballot for the November general election without presenting an excuse. In his opinion, U.S. District Judge James Hanlon wrote, "The question before the Court is not whether it would be wise for Indiana to allow everyone to vote by mail; that's a policy choice." Plaintiffs have filed an appeal.
• Indiana: A federal district court has ruled that Indiana must notify voters and give them a chance to fix problems with their mail ballot signatures instead of rejecting them without notice. Republican officials have not indicated whether they will appeal.
• Indiana: A federal district court has struck down Republicans' law that enabled voter registrations to be purged without notification in violation of federal law, dealing yet another blow to the GOP's attempt to use faulty data matching to purge voters without ever informing them.
Republicans had passed legislation earlier this year that withdrew the state from the now-defunct Interstate Crosscheck system championed by Republicans such as former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, which multiple federal courts had blocked Indiana from using over its security flaws and inaccuracy.
However, the GOP's replacement law created a new system that was susceptible to the same shoddy design flaws that saw Crosscheck yield more than one hundred false positives for every improper duplicate registration it found, leading to the court blocking its implementation.
Republicans have yet to announce whether they will appeal. If they fail to overturn this ruling, though, they'll have to devise another system for maintaining their voter rolls that does not remove potentially eligible voters without first informing them as required under the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, commonly called the "motor voter" law.
• Indiana: Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb says he will not relax Indiana's requirement that voters (except those age 65 and up) present an excuse to request an absentee ballot for the November general election, even though the state did so for its June primary. A federal lawsuit seeking to waive the excuse requirement remains pending.
• Indiana: The NAACP and Common Cause have filed a federal lawsuit challenging an Indiana law that requires absentee ballots be received by officials by noon on Election Day in order to count. The plaintiffs argue that this law violates the Constitution and instead want ballots to count so long as they are postmarked by Election Day and received within 10 days. They also want officials to adopt "the mail-in ballot tracking capability provided by the United States Postal Service."
Indiana: Indiana Republicans have passed a law that withdraws the state from the bipartisan Electronic Registration Information Center, which is used in a majority of states run by both parties to maintain accurate and up-to-date voter rolls. Instead, the state will use its own system, which could expose it to renewed litigation.
This change comes after Indiana had to withdraw from the infamous Interstate Crosscheck system championed by Republicans such as former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach after multiple federal courts blocked the state from using it over its security flaws and inaccuracy. One report found Crosscheck would yield more than one hundred false positives for every improper duplicate registration it found. Kansas Republicans agreed to shut down Crosscheck "for the foreseeable future" late last year.
A lawsuit filed in 2017 against Indiana's use of Crosscheck argued that the GOP used it to illegally purge the voter rolls without notifying voters. Switching to this new system could put the state in violation of federal law, which requires notifying voters before any cancellation. The plaintiffs in the Crosscheck case are awaiting judgment from the court but said that they would challenge this latest law.
Indiana: Voting rights advocates have filed a federal lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of a law that Republicans passed in 2019 to prohibit voters, parties, and candidates from asking a court to keep polling locations open past 6 PM local time on Election Day if there are problems with voting. Under current law, only bipartisan county election boards can ask a court to extend polling hours, and only after a unanimous vote.
The plaintiffs argue that this law violates the First and 14th Amendments and has a disparate impact on Black and Latino voters. Alongside Kentucky, Indiana is the only state that closes its polls at 6 PM on Election Day (all others close 7 PM or later), and this early closure makes it difficult to vote for people who work on Election Day or are caregivers for children or family members.
• Indiana: Indiana's bipartisan Election Commission has unanimously waived the state's requirement that voters who wish to vote absentee in June's presidential and downballot primaries provide an excuse in order to do so.
• Indiana: Republicans in the state Senate and in a state House committee have passed a bill to revive a highly flawed method for purging voter registrations following two federal court rulings that blocked the system they had previously been using. The bill would create a state-run version of the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck, which was championed by Kansas' former Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach and had an astronomically high rate of false positives when trying to find voters who were supposedly registered in multiple states improperly.
Kobach and the GOP had used these almost entirely false matches to purge voters without notifying them—and to gin up support for new voting restrictions. However, a defeat in court last year led to the program's suspension. If, though, Indiana's new bill passes, Republicans could once more remove voters from the rolls without notifying them, which opponents have denounced as a violation of federal law and implied will face future litigation. Republicans dominate state government, meaning this bill could soon become law.