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Governor signs election security bill

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A county clerk on Tuesday said counties will need the state’s help if they are to meet a new deadline for paper trails on voting machines.

Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office announced Tuesday morning he had signed a GOP-backed election security bill.

The new law moves up the deadline for counties to obtain voting machines that provide a voter-verifiable paper audit trail from Dec. 31, 2029, to July 1, 2024, in time for the 2024 general election. It also bans counties from using direct record electronic voting after July 1 of this year unless at least 10% of their electronic voting systems meet the paper trail requirement.

Huntington County Clerk Shelley Septer, who is also the president of the Association of the Clerks of the Circuit Courts of Indiana, said the bill will help voters ensure their elections are safe and secure. She said it will help the state head off potential new avenues for voter fraud.

Indiana Secretary of State Holli Sullivan’s office said the state had already agreed to pay for the machines. The new bill moves up the delivery time.

Septer said that without the state’s help, the counties would have a tough time meeting the requirement. She said new voting machines cost about $1,800 a piece, and Huntington County’s total price tag would come to about $90,000.

The new law also requires anyone applying for an absentee ballot online to submit either their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security Number to prove their identity.

Julia Vaughn, executive director of Common Cause Indiana, said this could discourage people from voting absentee.

“There are numerous people who just have reservations about giving that kind of personal identifying information online,” Vaughn said. “There’s also the possibility that there are folks who have been on the voter rolls for a long time who don’t have their driver’s license number in the system.”

Vaughn said if there are any weaknesses in Indiana’s election security, they are on the technology side, so speeding up the paper trail requirement is a good idea.

All provisions of the bill take effect immediately.