Indiana officials are denying that the forced consolidation of small voting precincts in Lake County is voter suppression, as a federal lawsuit alleges. In a response filed Tuesday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, Jr. denied allegations a state law that would consolidate voting precincts with less than 600 active voters disenfranchised Lake County residents, particularly in Gary, East Chicago and Hammond. The attorney general’s 72-page response refuted the suggestion the legislation was unlawful and that it is voter suppression, according to court documents. “Plaintiffs have failed to show SB 220 places a disproportionate burden on minorities or other voters in Lake County,” Hill wrote, in the response.
Articles about voting issues in Indiana.
At the summer study committee on election laws, it was announced lawmakers are planning to file bills for same-day voter registration and the ability to vote by mail. While we don’t have details on these bills there were plenty of suggestions on improving voting laws. In a time where many issues can cause divide, some want election laws to be different. “Voting in elections should be among the most inclusion activities we experience as Hoosiers,” said Julia Vaughn with the organization Common Cause. “Our assumption should be that people want to participate.”
Indiana: Republican’s plan would further suppress voting in Marion County, Democrats say | Indianapolis Star
The newly appointed Republican member of the Marion County Election Board has proposed a way to settle a lawsuit alleging discrimination in access to voting, but a group behind the dispute and Democrats alike say the plan would worsen the problem. Melissa Thompson, who was appointed Sept. 15 to the three-person board, suggests eliminating the 600 existing voting precincts and replacing them with 99 vote centers, but also during the early-voting period a vote center or satellite site in each of the county’s nine townships. Thompson says her plan would save the county money by eliminating more than 500 locations while increasing the number of early-voting locations. She also says her plan would make voting more accessible to workers because they could cast a ballot at any vote center rather than having to go to a designated precinct. “Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but right now we have the opportunity to think bigger than just this lawsuit,” Thompson told IndyStar.
Marion County Republicans are offering a deal on a seven-year stalemate over early voting, but Democrats aren’t biting. Common Cause is suing to force Marion County to offer more early voting locations. State law lets either party block early voting, and Republicans have. The lawsuit notes their counterparts in heavily Republican neighboring counties have expanded early voting, while Democratic-dominated Marion County has been limited since 2010 to the City-County Building, which is hard to reach and has little nearby parking.
Members of a legislative study committee Wednesday debated the merits of automatic voter registration. The discussion was part of an examination of election laws’ impact on voter participation. Ten states in the country have some form of automatic voter registration. In most of them, citizens are registered to vote while doing other business at the BMV. Advocates say the system could increase voter turnout.
Indiana: Secretary of State: No link between early voting access and turnout. Democrats: Get real.| Indianapolis Star
Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson told a committee of state lawmakers Wednesday that she doesn’t see a correlation between early voting access and voter turnout. The statement comes a few weeks after an IndyStar investigation found that state and local Republicans have expanded early voting in GOP-dominated areas and restricted it in Democratic areas. Common Cause Indiana, the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP and the local NAACP Branch, filed a lawsuit in May against the Marion County Election Board and Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, due to the scarcity of early voting locations in Marion County. In the lawsuit, the organization said the lack of early voting opportunities discriminates against African-American voters and violates the constitution.
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill has intervened in a lawsuit filed earlier this year by a civic group that alleges discrimination in access to early voting. Hill specifically wants to defend a 2001 state statute cited in the complaint. The statute requires a unanimous vote of a three-member board — comprising of a Democrat, a Republican and the county clerk — to expand early voting. An IndyStar investigation published earlier this month highlighted how the law has been used by state and local Republicans to restrict early voting in predominantly Democratic areas while expanding voting access in Republican-held areas. In the court filing, Hill says the Marion County Election Board does not “adequately” represent the state’s interest. He said Indiana is “left to wonder whether MCEB (Marion County Election Board) intends to provide any defense of the statute at all, or instead intends to enter into a consent decree permanently guaranteeing multiple satellite early voting facilities at its desired locations in Marion County.”
Indiana: After Obama’s 2008 Win, Indiana GOP Added Early Voting in White Suburb, Cut It in Indianapolis | Slate
n 2008, Barack Obama squeaked out an unexpected win in Indiana thanks in part to his huge margin of victory in Marion County, which has a large population of black Democrats. The state’s Republicans got to work right away, cutting early voting in Marion County, which includes the state capital of Indianapolis, while expanding it in a nearby suburban county filled with white Republican voters. That’s the distressing but entirely predictable upshot of a blockbuster report published by the Indianapolis Star on Thursday. The Star found that between 2008 and 2016, Republican officials reduced the number of early voting stations in Marion County from three to one, resulting in a 26 percent decline in absentee voting in the 2016 presidential election. (Early votes are cast via absentee ballots.) Meanwhile, officials added two early voting stations to the neighboring Hamilton County, which is populated primarily by white Republicans. The county saw a 63 percent increase in absentee voting in 2016. There is now one early voting station for every 100,000 voters in Hamilton County and one for every 700,000 voters in Marion County. In total, the number of people who voted in Marion County decreased by 11,261 between 2008 and 2016 and increased in Hamilton County by 27,376—this “despite an increase of registered voters in both counties,” the Star reports.
The NAACP is suing Indiana officials to block a new state law that the civil rights group says would discriminate against black and Latino voters in heavily populated Lake County by consolidating voting precincts. The lawsuit challenges a law that applies only to Lake County, which is home to Indiana’s second-largest African-American population and its largest Hispanic population. It alleges that the new law unfairly reassigns large numbers of voters to new polling locations that may be difficult for black and Latino voters with mobility issues or a lack of reliable transportation to reach. The federal lawsuit, filed Thursday by the Gary NAACP and the Priorities USA Foundation, names Indiana’s secretary of state and members of the Indiana Election Division as defendants.
Indiana: Republicans limit early voting in Democratic Marion County, encourage it in GOP strongholds | Indianapolis Star
State and local Republicans have expanded early voting in GOP-dominated areas and restricted it in Democratic areas, an IndyStar investigation has found, prompting a significant change in Central Indiana voting patterns. From 2008 to 2016, GOP officials expanded early voting stations in Republican dominated Hamilton County, IndyStar’s analysis found, and decreased them in the state’s biggest Democratic hotbed, Marion County. That made voting more convenient in GOP areas for people with transportation issues or busy schedules. And the results were immediate. Most telling, Hamilton County saw a 63 percent increase in absentee voting from 2008 to 2016, while Marion County saw a 26 percent decline. Absentee ballots are used at early voting stations. Population growth and other factors may have played a role, but Hamilton County Clerk Kathy Richardson, a Republican, told IndyStar the rise in absentee voting in Hamilton County was largely a result of the addition of two early voting stations, which brought the total to three.