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New Indiana law adds identity requirements for mail-in voting

By Steve Bittenbender | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – A new Indiana law will bring absentee voting requirements in line with the standards for in-person voting.

Under House Bill 1334, Hoosiers wanting to vote by mail must include proof of identification when they request a ballot. According to a release from the bill’s author, state Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola, an applicant can submit the last four digits of the Social Security number and another number, such as their driver’s license or state-issued identification card. Voters can also submit a scan of their license or ID card.

Previously, Hoosiers only needed to sign absentee ballots, with county elections officials checking those signatures with ones on file to determine if they matched.

According to the America First Policy Institute, more than 66,000 mail-in ballots were rejected in the 2018 general election by officials across the country because of signature verification issues. The organization said many people often have more than one signature, which can lead to confusion.

“This new law helps protect Indiana’s voting integrity by having voters who request an absentee ballot to submit two forms of identification when casting an absentee ballot,” Wesco said. “This is an important step to maintain voter confidence in our election process.”

The bill also makes another change to Indiana’s election laws. Neither local governments nor political parties will be able to blanket mail absentee ballot applications to voters. Instead, individuals will need to personally request an application. However, the bill makes no changes to mail-in voting eligibility. There are 11 criteria, any one of which would make a Hoosier eligible to vote by mail. That includes being 65 years of age or older, working the entire day of the election, having a disability or serving in the military or another public safety position.

Nearly 1.7 million Hoosiers voted in last year’s general election. Of those, 710,497, 36%, voted by absentee in some fashion. Besides mail-in voting, Indiana offers in-person absentee periods before election day.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed HB 1334 into law earlier this month. It officially takes effect July 1.

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