Indiana Senate backs GOP bill tightening mail voter rules

Voter ID
IL file photo

A Republican-backed proposal that would require Indiana voters to submit more identification information to obtain mail-in ballots was endorsed Monday by the state Senate despite objections from opponents who say it would make voting more difficult for many people.

Senators voted 36-12 in favor of the bill, which would require voters submitting a paper application for a mail ballot to include a photocopy of a government-issued identification card or at least two ID numbers, such as their 10-digit driver’s license or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Supporters say the measure is aimed at increasing voter confidence in elections by putting Indiana’s ID requirements for mail-in ballots in line with those for in-person voting.

Opponents counter that the additional requirements may disenfranchise some people, especially older voters who could find it difficult to navigate the additional requirements and those who aren’t able to print a copy at home of their driver’s license or other photo ID.

“This bill is truly about making it more difficult for voters to vote.” said Democratic Sen. J.D. Ford of Indianapolis.

“We should be tearing down those barriers, not adding them,” Ford said. “We already rank at the bottom when it comes to voter turnout, and this bill will just continue to exacerbate that problem.”

Bill sponsor Sen. Eric Koch, a Republican from Bedford, said he believes Indiana’s elections are “safe and secure” but cited scattered criminal cases of absentee voting fraud from across the state over the past decade.

The House approved a similar version of the bill in February. Both chambers will have to agree on an identical version by late April to send it to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Previous attempts at enacting tougher mail-in voting rules failed the last two years in the Republican-dominated Legislature.

Voting rights groups maintain that stricter ID requirements aren’t necessary because county election workers already must confirm that a person’s signature on an application matches their voter registration record.

Some who testified before lawmakers in support of the bill argued that the current signature matching process is not stringent enough and that voters are “screaming” for tighter rules around mail voting.

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