Indiana’s complicated voting regulations and switching of polling locations frustrate voters and keep them away from ballot boxes, in what some see as an effort to suppress the vote, officials and voting rights advocates told a legislative panel Thursday. Indianapolis radio personality Amos Brown and Trent Deckard, Democratic co-director of the Indiana Election Division, told the Census Data Advisory Committee that unexplained relocation of polling places and 52 pages of changes approved since 2012 cause voters, especially minorities, to lose faith in the system. Brown, who is well-known for advocating on behalf of African-Americans, said his polling place, which had been at a local church within walking distance for 20 years, was suddenly switched to a golf course across the White River that could only be reached by car because there weren’t any sidewalks. “We have seen, in Marion County, instances where polling locations were just changed willy-nilly,” Brown said.
Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican who was tasked with redrawing the precincts, said the boundaries are redrawn every 10 years to reflect population shifts.
“These things definitely affect the voting of minorities,” said Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis.
Deckard said confusion among poll workers who don’t understand state registration requirements has resulted in voters being denied their rights and in long lines that cause some people to give up before casting a ballot.
“The feeling the voter has at that time, whether right or wrong, is that something in the system is suppressing the vote,” Deckard said. “One of the hardest things I have to tell people is that maybe their vote is not going to count,” he added.