I-Team 8

Voters question ‘mixed messaging’ after receiving unsolicited absentee ballot applications

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Republican Party sent out a slew of unsolicited absentee ballot applications after refusing to expand mail-in voting options this fall.

Indiana allowed no-fault absentee voting during the primary election but is one of six states that require a reason to vote by mail in the general election.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, repeatedly touted the safety of in-person voting despite coronavirus concerns.

Some Hoosier Republicans questioned their party’s “mixed messaging” upon receiving the unsolicited mailings. The state’s Democratic leadership slammed the GOP’s “hypocrisy.”

“It’s hypocritical because they are sending out [these absentee ballot applications] while they’re criticizing mail-in voting,” said John Zody, the Indiana Democratic Party chair. 

Kyle Hupfer, Zody’s Republican counterpart, maintained critics of the ballot requests misinterpreted GOP messaging. Refusal to expand absentee voting as Hoosiers return to work and school does not constitute criticism of available vote-by-mail options, he said.

“At no point have we criticized the existing mail-in applications process that’s been going on for years here in Indiana,” Hupfer told News 8.

The mailings are part of the GOP’s “normal get-out-the-vote effort” during every election cycle, he added.

Democrats are also sending absentee ballot applications to targeted voters across Indiana, Zody confirmed.

Both party chairs declined to disclose how many applications had been mailed to voters or how the recipients were selected, citing proprietary information.

Chuck Patrick, a Greenwood resident, said he received an absentee ballot application in the mail on Wednesday. He did not request the application and had never voted absentee.

“I was just very surprised because it’s from the Indiana Republican State Committee,” Patrick said. “It seems like mixed messaging after telling you not to vote absentee.”

He had gone to the polls for every presidential election since the 1960s and planned to vote in person in November.

GOP leadership supported no-fault absentee voting during the primary election because “folks were in lockdown” but felt it was no longer necessary for the general election after observing Hoosiers safely working, traveling, shopping and resuming other pre-pandemic routines, according to Hupfer.

Data shared by Marion County officials reveals the popularity, if not the necessity, of mail-in voting amid the global pandemic.

By Thursday, the county had received at least 40,000 absentee ballot applications for the general election. Approximately 21,000 ballots were mailed in 2016.