Contact: AJ Freeney-Ruiz
Indianapolis, IN - Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita commended the Indiana General Assembly for passing legislation requiring voters to show photo identification before voting at the polls and both strengthening protections in the absentee voting process.
Advocated by Secretary Rokita, Senate Enrolled Act 483 is aimed at preserving voter confidence and promoting integrity in elections. The legislation requires a precinct election worker to ask every voter to provide proof of identification before the voter is permitted to vote an official ballot. The bill provides the following:
- "Proof of identification" refers to a document issued by the state or federal government that shows a photograph of the person to whom the document was issued. The document must also show the name of the person, which must match the individual's voter registration record. The document cannot have expired before the last general election.
- If a voter is unable to present ID at the polling place, the voter is never turned away. Instead, the voter is given the opportunity to cast a "provisional ballot," which is then kept in a secrecy envelope and separate from the regular ballots cast by other voters in the precinct.
- After casting a provisional ballot because of lack of identification, a voter has thirteen days to provide proof of identification to the county clerk or county election board to have the sealed provisional ballot opened and counted.
- If the voter appears in person at the county election office and swears by affidavit that the voter cannot afford to pay for ID, or that person has a religious objection to being photographed, that voter's sealed provisional ballot is opened and counted.
- The Bureau of Motor Vehicles will issue a free photo identification card to any individual who does not already have a valid Indiana driver's license or identification card and will be eighteen years of age by the date of the next election.
- Voters who reside in nursing homes or other state licensed care facilities who vote in person at the respective facility are exempted from the ID requirement, as are confined voters casting ballots before a travelling board.
"With photo ID at the polls, the legislators have worked to ensure that all voters' ballots will count the same on election day," Rokita said. "The photo ID requirement will serve all Hoosiers and allow Indiana to have the most fair and reliable elections possible. Furthermore, the bill requires that no bureaucratic fee will stand in the way of any voter who wants to cast a ballot."
Advocated by Secretary Rokita, Senate Enrolled Act 15 requires an absentee voter's bill of rights to be sent with each absentee ballot and strengthens protections in the absentee voting process. The legislation sets forth the following additional safeguards:
- Requires applicants to swear or affirm under the penalties of perjury all of the information set forth in the absentee ballot application is true, including the applicant's reason for requesting an absentee ballot
- Establishes penalties for electioneering in the presence of someone with an absentee ballot
- Prohibits party officials or others from completing absentee ballot information for voters
- Requires anyone assisting a voter in completing the absentee ballot application or absentee ballot to sign an affidavit indicating the assistance
- Requires individuals who cast absentee ballots in person at the clerk's office to present identification in the same manner as a voter who votes in person at the polls
"The legislators and I have worked diligently to educate the public about the absentee process and see to it that this necessary absentee reform be passed to prevent any future attempts at stuffing the ballot box through the mail," Rokita said. "The passage of Senate Bill 15 further strengthens voter confidence and works to ensure that Hoosiers will have the most fair and reliable elections possible."
Rokita thanked Senate Elections Chair Jerold A. Bonnet and Senator Vic Heinold, and Brant Hershman and Representatives Tim Brown, Jackie Walorski, Steve Heim and Andy Thomas, for their efforts to pass SEA 483.
Rokita also thanked Lawson, and Senate co-authors John Waterman, Sue Landske, and Patricia Miller and House sponsors Kathy Richardson and Andy Thomas for their commitment to election reform and their efforts to pass SEA 15.