Terre Haute legislator Clyde Kersey’s bill to establish automatic voter registration in Indiana through Bureau of Motor Vehicles will get a hearing today in the Indiana House Elections and Apportionment Committee. But the proposal’s “automatic” element will likely be diminished. Instead of applicants for BMV licenses and identification cards being automatically registered as voters, simultaneously, BMV employees would be required to ask customers if they want to become registered to vote. “So it’s an improvement, but a small improvement,” said Kersey. He’s a Democrat, whose party is vastly outnumbered by the Republican super majority in the House.
Articles about voting issues in Indiana.
A bill before the Indiana General Assembly aims to push Lake County to consolidate its small voting precincts. Rep. Harold Slager, R-Schererville, filed a bill to establish a commission to develop a plan to consolidate Lake County voting precincts with less than 600 active voters. Proponents say the legislation will create savings for the county, while detractors decry consolidation efforts as making it difficult for residents to vote. As more people go to early voting locations, Dan Dernulc, chairman of the Lake County Republican Party, said the county will have to look at consolidation. Combining the smaller precincts would give voters the same if not better level of service, Dernulc said, and save money for taxpayers. “It’s a money-saving idea,” Dernulc said.
Employees of an Indiana voter mobilization group with deep ties to the Democratic Party submitted several hundred voter registrations that included false, incomplete or fraudulent information, according to a search warrant unsealed Monday. The contents of the warrant, which allowed Indiana State Police to raid the offices of Patriot Majority USA in October, were revealed at the request of the group, which is at the center of an ongoing voter fraud investigation. It indicates state police contacted a handful of workers who admitted to falsifying registrations. Several said they were under pressure and faced the possibility of losing their temporary job if they did not register at least 10 new voters a day. Indiana law requires voter registration groups to submit all registrations they collect, even if they know they contain inaccurate information. Patriot Majority, which registered thousands of predominantly black voters before last week’s election, flagged many of the registrations that they believed contained incorrect or incomplete information to elections officials, the warrant states.
A Marion County judge wants to know how a sealed search warrant affidavit for an alleged voter fraud investigation was leaked. Defense attorneys for a voter registration group, Patriot Majority USA, requested and were granted an emergency hearing Monday evening with a prosecutor and a Marion County judge after details of the document were published by another news outlet. I-Team 8 was present in the clerk’s office Monday evening but were kept out of the meeting held in the judge’s chambers. At issue is a search warrant affidavit that the judge told I-Team 8 remains under seal. Linda Pence, attorney for the voter registration group founded by a Democratic strategist, said that the Patriot Majority USA’s local outlet – the Indiana Voter Registration Project – was a “respectable organization” that helped register 45,000 voters in Indiana.
A voter mobilization facing an investigation into possible voter registration fraud asked a court Thursday to unseal documents from an Indiana State Police search of its offices, saying it “has been publicly demonized by the highest state officials in Indiana.” Patriot Majority USA’s attorneys asked a judge to either unseal a search warrant affidavit in the Oct. 4 search of its Indianapolis offices or hold an immediate hearing on its request. State Police announced Sept. 15 that it had begun investigating in August whether some voter registration applications submitted by Patriot Majority contained elements of fraud, including possible forged signatures. Patriot Majority has said some applications it submitted to county clerk’s offices were missing information, but none were fraudulent, and the group had flagged applications it knew were incomplete. In its motion filed in Marion County Superior Court, Patriot Majority cites comments by Gov. Mike Pence, who’s Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s running mate; Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson; Pence-appointed State Police Superintendent Doug Carter, among others. “It would be highly unjust to not release the Affidavit when public officials have refused to provide the facts supporting their reckless conclusory proclamations,” the motion states.
Ever since Indiana State Police raided a voter registration office in Indiana and effectively shut down a voter registration drive aimed at getting African-American voters to the polls, there have been a lot of unanswered questions. Among the biggest: What actually initiated the state police investigation? What was the motivation? What happens to the thousands of legitimate registration forms submitted through the voter registration drive under investigation? Here’s what we know. On Oct. 4, the Indiana State Police executed a search warrant and raided the Indiana Voter Registration Project’s office. They took phones, paperwork and computers as evidence in their investigation into alleged voter fraud. The raid and subsequent statements about the case by the state police have received a lot of media coverage in Indiana, and nationally. “State Police raid Indy office in growing voter fraud case” read the headline in the state’s largest newspaper, the Indianapolis Star. Another one from the Star: “Top Indiana election official alleges more voter fraud.” The case has also been followed by the Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times and The New Republic.
For faithful Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians in Indiana, voting on Election Day is simple. Walk into the booth and check one box to select every candidate from their party. But beginning this election the straight-ticket option will not include all partisan races. In an effort to clear up confusion, the legislature passed a law earlier this year that requires voters to select each candidate they wish for at-large county council and town council seats. The law does not change how the straight-party ticket functions in any other ballot race. Previously, some voters did not follow ballot instructions when straight ticket voting. Some counties reported ballots where voters selected straight-ticket and then also marked additional at-large candidates. “Voter intent was very ambiguous,” said Secretary of State Connie Lawson, who is Indiana’s chief election official. Now, at-large races are treated similarly to the nonpartisan school board races, retention questions for judges and public questions, where voters have always had to individually fill in their ballot after straight-ticket voting.
A data analysis firm hired by a voter registration group said on Tuesday that its analysis of Indiana’s voter database found thousands of people over the age of 110 who would likely be deceased and are still registered to vote. TargetSmart conducted a review of the state voter file maintained by Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson’s office on behalf of Patriot Majority, a voter registration group with deep ties to the Democratic Party, which has been the focal point of a state police probe of possible voter fraud. But Patriot Majority said the data firm’s findings show that the statewide voter database is riddled with errors and this does not mean there was fraud. The review found 837,000 voters with out-of-date addresses when compared to the United States Postal Service address database, as well as 4,556 duplicate registrations, 3,000 records without dates of birth and 31 records of registered voters who are too young to cast a ballot. “There is clearly bad, missing and incomplete data,” said Tom Bonier, the CEO of TargetSmart, which is affiliated with the Democratic Party. “So if you’re seeing a lot of names changing or dates of birth changing, that’s likely because the information she had on the file is incorrect.”
If ever there was a time to reveal how Indiana elections could be rigged, it was in April 2008. That’s when the U.S. Supreme Court was weighing whether Indiana lawmakers could require voters to show government-issued identification at the polls. The state’s Republican-controlled legislature had passed a stringent voter ID law in 2005 based on the argument that it was necessary to prevent voter fraud. The law was challenged in court. Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the Supreme Court’s majority in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, said the state’s “interest in counting only the votes of eligible voters” justified voter ID. Thus, the law was ruled constitutional. But in doing so, Stevens also included in his opinion a statement that continues even today to strike at the core of ongoing — and often partisan — debates over the prevalence of voter fraud. He said there was scant evidence that anyone in Indiana had ever illegally voted in person.
With accusations of rigging and voter fraud hanging over this year’s elections, alarms are set off by the mere suggestion of irregularities in the registration and voting process. So when questions were raised in Indiana this year about suspicious registration forms, the matter quickly snowballed, leading to a sweeping investigation, supported by the Republican secretary of state and led by the State Police. The contention was that some voter registration forms submitted by the Indiana Voter Registration Project, which set out this year to sign up thousands of African-Americans to vote in the state, were missing key information or appeared fraudulent. The State Police descended on the group’s headquarters this month, and conservatives have pointed to the case as a possible example of ineligible voters being recruited to sway elections. The Indiana Voter Registration Project insists there was no wrongdoing, pointed out that the state’s governor, Mike Pence, is the Republican vice-presidential candidate and asserted that the investigation was politically motivated. They invited federal authorities to come in and look for themselves. The state investigation is ongoing, with no resolution assured before the Nov. 8 election, when Indiana voters will select a new governor and United States senator; and help choose a new president.