A federal judge on Friday blocked the state of Indiana from enforcing a 2017 law allowing election officials to remove voters from the rolls if they were flagged by a controversial tracking system. U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled in a legal challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Common Cause Indiana and other groups that the legislation violates the National Voter Registration Act and threatens to disenfranchise eligible voters. “The court agrees with Common Cause that the greater public interest is in allowing eligible voters to exercise their right to vote without being disenfranchised without notice,” Pratt wrote in her 28-page ruling.
Articles about voting issues in Indiana.
Dearborn County Clerk of Courts Gayle Pennington confirmed Tuesday night that most of the county’s ballot scanning machines were disabled by dead batteries on Primary Election Day. “We did our testing a few weeks ago. We sent our machines out (to polling places) over the weekend. Our inspectors had their (battery) packs. They went out and the batteries were dead in their packs,” Pennington told Eagle Country 99.3 following the final vote total. Only about 11 of the 45 machines at the 45 voting precincts throughout the county were operational Tuesday, the clerk added. The vendor for the county’s new ballot scanning machines – used for the first time in an election Tuesday – is Election Systems and Software. Regarding the batteries, Pennington said they were new in November 2017 and were supposed to have a five-year lifespan.
Indiana: Lawsuit challenging Indiana law that forces voting precinct consolidation in Lake County could soon be dismissed | Post-Tribune
A lawsuit over a state law forcing the consolidation of small voting precincts in Lake County could soon be dismissed, an official said Friday. Lawyers representing the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP and a group of Lake County voters asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that said the forced consolidation of voting precincts could hamper Lake County residents’ rights. Jim Wieser, chairman of the Lake Democratic Central Committee, said there is no plan showing how precincts would be consolidated, so attorneys thought it would be best to dismiss the litigation until a proposal is put together. “Without a plan, it’s hard to argue in a court of law,” Wieser said.
Voter advocacy groups say an Indiana law will illegally throw Hoosiers off the voting rolls. And they’re suing to stop the state from using that law. A federal court hearing Wednesday centered on Indiana’s use of what’s known as the Interstate Crosscheck system. The Crosscheck system, which is run by the Kansas Secretary of State, looks for voters who seem to be registered in two different states. If it finds apparent matches, those matches get sent to participating states, including Indiana. The state then does its own check, and if enough voter info lines up, it’s forwarded to individual counties.
A federal judge Wednesday ordered Marion County to establish at least two early satellite voting precincts in time for the November general election, though the court refrained from requiring them in time for the May 8 primary election. Senior Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued an injunction in a suit brought by Common Cause and the NAACP. The suit filed in 2017 alleged that the county election board’s decision in recent years to permit early voting in just one location countywide provided unequal access to the ballot and violated voting rights in Indianapolis, particularly for minority voters.
A national council of election experts, led by Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, is recommending steps to ensure American elections are secure from hacking or tampering. On Thursday, Lawson and other members of the Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council will urge states and localities to upgrade their election technology and invest in staff with cyber experience at the state and local levels. “This is a race with no finish line,” said Lawson, a Republican who also is president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
Two potentially transformative election reforms approved by the Indiana Senate likely will not become law this year after failing to pass the House by Monday’s deadline for acting on Senate measures. Neither Senate Bill 250, authorizing “no excuse” absentee voting, nor Senate Bill 326, establishing standards for legislative redistricting, received formal consideration by the House Elections and Apportionment Committee. They therefore could not advance for a vote by the full House on whether to send them to the governor. It’s possible, though improbable, that the Senate still could force a House vote through the conference committee process.
Legislation to ensure ballots are counted even if the voters who cast them die won’t advance in the House. The bill – which easily cleared the Senate – would require absentee ballots to be counted if the person who cast the ballot dies before Election Day. But Attorney General Curtis Hill contends the measure is unconstitutional. A non-binding opinionissued by his office says a person ceases to be a resident if they die – and the Indiana Constitution requires residency to vote.
A redistricting reform bill is heading to the Senate floor, but it’s not what good-government advocates have been asking for. For years, advocates have called for an independent committee to draw the Indiana’s legislative and congressional maps, instead of the General Assembly. Senate Bill 236, however, would create criteria lawmakers must consider when they redraw the maps every 10 years. Bill author Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, said his bill was just a “baby step” in the right direction. He said that the criteria used to draw maps was far more important than who was drawing the maps.
State legislative redistricting in Indiana took an important step forward Tuesday morning when the Senate Elections Committee, chaired by Republican Sen. Greg Walker, voted unanimously in support of SB326 to create a set of redistricting standards. The bill will now move to the full Senate. The committee met in the Senate chambers with a crowd of more than 200 from all parts of Indiana in the balcony. Redistricting has been a top priority of the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to supporting democracy, voter rights and voter projection. The LWV has co-sponsored with Common Cause Indiana a coalition for independent redistricting which has been educating and advocating for redistricting reform.