Controversial Indiana voting bill passes Senate, heads to House

The bill would require someone to add information from their ID when requesting an absentee ballot.

INDIANA, USA — A new law in Georgia has been criticized for suppressing voting and led the MLB to pull the 2021 All-Star Game out of the state.

A bill that has passed the Indiana Senate and heads to the House has also been criticized for discouraging people from voting.

The Indiana bill would require an ID when requesting an absentee ballot.

It would also prohibit the Indiana Election Commission and the governor from expanding mail-in voting or changing the time, place or manner of election.

“After first reading it, my first issue the thing that came to mind was just suppression,” NAACP President of the Youth and College Division Carey Walls said.  

Walls is a college student from Jeffersonville. He says this bill is restrictive since some people in low-income communities or communities of color don’t have an ID.

“Now you’re really just giving them a disregard,” Walls said. “It’s more so of a ‘oh well, if you can–you can, if you can’t–you can’t. Sorry about you.’”

More people voted absentee in the 2020 election than in years past, including people in the Black community where COVID-19 hit hard.

At the Floyd County Clerk’s Office – instead of checking someone’s ID, the workers would match signatures from someone’s voter registration with someone’s absentee vote. Voting in person still required an ID.

“Just to show your ID, that’s pretty much what we’ve done in Indiana for many years,” Floyd County Clerk Danita Burks said.  “I don’t see that as a restriction.”

The sponsors of the bill claim it will help prevent voter fraud. Author Sen. Erin Houchin said in a statement:

“The Indiana bill is a bit different – it would ALSO require an ID when requesting an absentee ballot.

It would also prohibit the Indiana election commission and the governor from expanding mail-in voting or changing the time, place or manner of election.”

Even with 33,000 absentee ballots this past election, Burks says that wasn’t a concern.

“I don’t feel we have any fraud issues here in Floyd County that we had to deal with,” Burks said.

Walls told me in the research he has done, there isn’t a lot of evidence of voter fraud, and believes this bill does more harm than good.

“To use voter fraud as the reason behind trying to implement this bill is not sufficient, in my opinion,” Walls said.  

There is a hearing scheduled for Thursday. 

Click on SB 353 to see a copy of the bill.

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users.