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Indiana among 9 states requiring reason to cast absentee ballot

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb resisted calls to implement no-excuse mail-in voting but denied it was due to federal pressure.

He vowed to revisit the issue after the state attorney general reviewed the legality of expanding vote-by-mail.

Indiana is one of nine states requiring a reason to cast an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 election.

Valid reasons to abstain from in-person voting in Indiana include age, disability, confinement due to illness or injury, lack of transportation, work duties and sex offender status.

Coronavirus concerns do not excuse Hoosiers from voting in person.

“Indiana will have a safe and secure and healthy in-person election on Nov. 3,” Holcomb said Wednesday during a virtual Statehouse briefing.

During the same press conference, the state health commissioner presented data showing COVID-19 hospitalizations had climbed since June.

Holcomb insisted claims that President Trump had barred Indiana from expanding access to vote-by-mail were “inaccurate.”

Trump raged against mail-in voting during a wide-ranging Axios interview that aired Monday on HBO.

“There is no way you can go through a mail-in vote without massive cheating,” the president told Axios reporter Jonathan Swan.

A study from the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and public policy institute at New York University Law School, found fewer than 500 cases of absentee voter fraud out of billions of votes cast in the U.S. between 2000 and 2012.

“I don’t see why [allowing no-excuse mail-in voting during a pandemic] should be an issue. I think it’s a no-brainer,” said Riley Wallace, an Indianapolis resident.

She said she was concerned about potential COVID-19 exposure at polling locations but would be willing to vote in person.

“I feel like that’s the only decision I have: to vote in person. [I’m] definitely going to mask up and keep my distance,” Wallace told News 8. 

Kaitlin Hiquet, another Indianapolis resident, hoped the statewide mask mandate would remain in effect in November.

She also planned to vote in person. 

Hiquet had requested an absentee ballot for Indiana’s 2020 primary election but never received it in the mail, she said.

“I would rather be sure my vote counts and it gets sent in than face the uncertainty of maybe not getting a mail-in ballot,” she told News 8. 

To vote absentee-by-mail, Indiana residents must complete the ABS-Mail application. The application to request a vote-by-mail ballot must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. 12 days before the election (Oct. 22 for the Nov. 3 election).

County or state officials must have the application in their possession by the deadline; applications received after the deadline – even if postmarked before the deadline – cannot be processed.

Reasons to request an absentee vote-by-mail ballot in Indiana:

  1. You have a specific, reasonable expectation that you will be absent from the county on Election Day during the entire 12 hours that polls are open (6 a.m. until 6 p.m).
  2. You have a disability.
  3. You are at least 65 years of age.
  4. You will have official election duties outside of your voting precinct.
  5. You are scheduled to work at your regular place of employment during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  6. You will be confined due to illness or injury or you will be caring for an individual confined due to illness or injury during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  7. You are prevented from voting because of a religious discipline or religious holiday during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  8. You are a participant in the state’s address confidentiality program.
  9. You are a member of the military or a public safety officer.
  10. You are a “serious sex offender” as defined in Indiana Code 35-42-4-14(a).
  11. You are prevented from voting due to the unavailability of transportation to the polls.