INDIANAPOLIS – Democrats in the Indiana House tried and failed in their efforts to assure that Hoosiers have more time to apply for an absentee ballot.
House Bill 1311, authored by Rep. Thomas Saunders, R-Lewisville, would change the amount of time to apply for an absentee ballot from eight to 12 days before an election because local county clerks had said they needed more time to process them.
“We want people’s votes to count,” Saunders said in an interview. An earlier deadline would give voters more time to submit the ballots and clerks more time to count them.
Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, filed an amendment that would have returned the time to eight days, but it was defeated 29-63. Amendments by Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, to use technology to track absentee ballots and by Rep. Pat Boy, D-Michigan City, to require ballots be accepted until noon 10 days after the election both failed on voice votes.
An attempt by Rep. Carey Hamilton, D-Indianapolis, to amend the bill to extend election day voting hours to 7:30 p.m. from the current 6 p.m. didn’t get heard on technical grounds because a similar measure is pending in another bill that is languishing in committee.
“Indiana polls are currently open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” Hamilton said in a news release. “Most Hoosiers are working during those hours, a majority of Americans live in states with longer voting hours, which makes it easier for working class voters to make it to the polls.”
Indiana’s voting hours are why Indiana consistently ranks at the bottom for turnout, she added.