Protecting Elections with Voter ID

Contact: AJ Freeney-Ruiz

Indianapolis, IN - During the last few months the Indiana General Assembly worked tirelessly to enact laws aimed at safeguarding the integrity of our elections and curbing election fraud with bills targeting voting both at the polls and by absentee ballots.

An important part of this package is the new Voter ID law that requires voters to show photo identification to prove they are who they say they are before voting both at the polls and when voting by absentee ballot in person at the county clerk's office. The Voter ID law also ensures voters have access to the required identification when they otherwise would not by providing free photo ID cards to those who cannot afford them through the BMV. The law also excludes from the requirement elderly voters who live and vote in licensed care facilities and people who object to being photographed for religious reasons.

In addition to providing free IDs to those who need them, the law also provides several additional safeguards to make sure every legally registered Hoosier's vote is counted. The new law allows individuals without proper ID who vote at the polls to cast a provisional ballot and then take up to thirteen days following the election to produce ID and have that ballot counted. During that time, voters without proper ID may get the proper ID from the BMV, swear to their inability to get the necessary documentation or the ID itself, or swear to their religious objections to being photographed.

Hoosiers have the right to have their ballots counted and to expect that each ballot carry exactly the same weight as every other legally registered voter's ballot - no matter whether the vote is cast in person or by absentee ballot. In a separate new law, the General Assembly addressed fraud in absentee voting - a problem encountered in several counties in recent elections.

The new absentee law sets forth an absentee voter's bill of rights and strengthens protections in the absentee voting process. Because of the new law, absentee ballot applicants will swear or affirm under the penalties of perjury all of the information set forth in the application is true. The law also establishes penalties for electioneering in the presence of someone with an absentee ballot, which is an important safeguard to be sure an absentee voter can vote in private without feeling pressured to vote for a candidate or party standing at her door while she completes her ballot.

An important goal of election reform is to make sure no legally cast vote is diluted or cancelled out by someone attempting to defraud the system. By addressing fraud both at the polls and through the absentee process, our legislators have created laws to see to it that every legally registered Hoosier's vote counts the same come election time.

Recent lawsuits filed by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union and State and Marion County Democrats claim that the new Voter ID law places an undue burden on voters and that no evidence of fraud exists at the polls in Indiana. As you can see for yourself, the law makes every effort to ensure that every Hoosier's vote is counted.

Before this law, there was no way to legally document whether such fraud at the polls occurred. Until now, my office could only hear anecdotal accounts of individuals going in to their local polling places to vote only to find a signature affixed next to their name already. With Voter ID, we can finally do something to address this.

A recent Indianapolis Star poll found that almost 80% of all Hoosiers support Voter ID and a Rasmussen poll taken last year mirrored those numbers on a national level. The fact is that most Hoosiers already assume they are going to be asked for their ID when they vote - after all, they must do so to rent a movie, buy a gun, cash a check, and in many cases eat at a shelter. For something as serious as voting, it is time to update the best technology available 200 years ago - a signature - with today's best available proof of identity - a photo ID.