Indiana lawmakers approve tighter mail-in voting rules

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to a Republican-backed proposal that would require voters to submit more identification information to obtain mail-in ballots, rejecting arguments that the tougher rules would make voting more difficult for many people.

Indiana House members voted 64-30 along party lines in favor of the bill previously endorsed by the Senate. The vote sends the bill to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb for his consideration.

Approval of the tighter mail-in voting rules comes after previous attempts failed the past two years in the Republican-dominated Legislature, even as former President Donald Trump and many of his supporters stoked false claims that fraud led to his 2020 election defeat.

The bill which would require Indiana voters submitting a paper application for a mail ballot to include a photocopy of a government-issued identification card or at least two ID numbers, such as their 10-digit driver’s license or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Tim Wesco of Osceola has maintained the step was aimed at increasing voter confidence in elections by putting identification requirements for mail-in ballots in line with those for in-person voting.

The changes would take effect July 1 and be required for mail-in ballots cast in this fall’s city and town elections around the state.

Democratic Rep. Tonya Pfaff of Terre Haute said she believed it was “unnecessary to make it more difficult” for older voters and those in the military to cast ballots by mail.

“It won’t make elections safer and only serves to hamper democracy,” Pfaff said.

Voting rights groups argued that the stricter ID requirements aren’t necessary because county election workers already must confirm that a person’s signature on an application matches their voter registration record. Those groups unsuccessfully pushed, instead, for lifting the state’s restrictions on who may cast mail-in ballots as a way of improving Indiana’s low voter turnout rates.

Opponents said they believed the changes would increase the chances for “voters to be tripped up because of a bureaucratic problem.”

Some who testified before lawmakers in support of the bill argued that the current signature matching process is not stringent enough and that voters are “screaming” for tighter rules around mail voting.

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