Indiana lawmakers are taking up Republican-backed proposals to eliminate straight party-line voting on state ballots and require the use of voter identification numbers for mail-in absentee ballots, moves that Democrats argue will make voting more difficult and could hurt turnout. State House and Senate committees could vote this week on advancing election bills that include those topics, along with a provision that some lawmakers worry could lead to confusion over whether university students are allowed to vote in their college towns. Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma and other legislative leaders are squarely behind the proposal to no longer allow straight party-line voting with one click or mark of an election ballot. Some Republican and Democratic officials, however, are leery of the change, with concerns including longer lines at polling sites if voters need more time to complete their ballots. The proposal would allow only votes for candidates for each specific office on the ballot. They still would be identified by their party affiliations.
Rep. Milo Smith, who is chairman of the House Elections Committee, said he supports the change because it will make everyone look at the candidates for whom they are voting and not simply the party label. “I just think people need to take the time to learn about who they are voting for before going in rather than just pushing a button for straight party,” said Smith, R-Columbus. “I think that makes for a better election process.”
A separate bill would require anyone wanting to cast a mail-in absentee ballot to provide their voter identification number on the application submitted to county election officials.
… Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said the voter ID number was obscure information that few people know about and that requiring it would make it more difficult to vote. “This disproportionately affects seniors, low-income voters, those who aren’t able to make it the polls on Election Day,” Zody said. “They have the right here in Indiana to vote by mail.”
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