By Emma Merrill
Many Indiana voters did alarm by Indiana’s voting procedures in the state’s June 2, 2020 primary election – Indiana’s first attempt at a statewide election during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’ve just been completely disenfranchised,” one voter reported after confronting a polling place that lacked resources to deal with an unprepared mail ballot. Another Hoosier described Indiana’s electoral system as “utterly overwhelming.”
Indiana state law requires mail ballots to be received at noon on Election Day to be counted. Code of Ind. § 3-11.5-4-3. In the Indiana primary election, the Indiana Democratic Party motor Republican state government extended the noon deadline for the Indiana absentee ballots – to no avail. While Republican Governor Eric Holcomb issued an Ordinance change Officially from May 3 to June 2, Republicans of the state declined to change the noon requirement of the absentee ballot deadline. Finally, more than ten times more Indiana voters used absentee mail ballots than in the 2016 presidential primary election. An increase in absentee ballots. result in the processing and delayed delivery of approximately 1800 voter mail ballots in Marion County, which has a substantial community of minority voters. The state electoral system failed to deal with the pandemic, and as a result, voters were stripped of their voting rights.
Election officials prepared for an increase in the number of absentee ballots on Election Day. Experts expect the absentee ballot rate to increase significantly due to voters concerned about the COVID-19 contract signing at the polls. Foreseeing this increase in absent voters, the Indiana Common Cause and the NAACP Indiana State Conference challenge Election deadline at noon at the Southern Federal Court of Indiana on July 30, 2020. The Common Cause and NAACP argue that Indiana law threatens to deprive thousands of voters, violating the rights of Their first and fourteenth Amendment. Even worse, the plaintiffs argued, the noon deadline could disproportionately deprive minority voters. Their remedy: have Indiana count the postmarked absentee ballots before Election Day and received them within ten days.
On September 29, the district court stand to the side of to the plaintiffs, claiming that Indiana’s noon voting deadline was unconstitutional because of the ongoing pandemic. The district court focuses on the considerable burden that the noon deadline will place on voters who have no control over whether their postal ballot will arrive on time. The District Court concluded that the burden of voters’ rights outweighs the interests of the state to increase voter participation, prevent voter fraud, and promote public confidence in meetings. vote and prevent tension in the electoral system.
On October 13, Round 7 reverse district court and midday reinstatement. Writing on behalf of a board of three judges, Judge Easterbrook criticized the district court’s premise that absent voters have a right not to risk that their votes will not count. The Court of Appeal based on a recent case, Tully v. Okeson, in which the court has declared that “as long as the state allows direct voting, there is no constitutional right to vote by mail.” In TullySeventh Circuit concludes that the difficulties associated with COVID-19 do not require the state to change its electoral rules. Those who are concerned that their ballot will not arrive on time may vote early or in person. Finally, Judge Easterbrook invoked the quoted principle that courts must not change the election rules near electoral time.
Following the decision of the Seventh Circuit, Julia Vaughn, the policy director of Common Cause, campaigned for the Election Commission and Governor Eric Holcomb declare emergency and law change. Governor Holcomb ultimately did not intervene to change Indiana’s voting deadline.
Fortunately, Indiana’s electoral system seems to be there weathered storm absentee voting. As expected, Indiana voters met long queues and waiting times at polling stations. Voters dropped a record 1.7 million early voting statewide. In Marion County, the electoral board asked 150 people from both Republicans and Democrats of the state to help count the absentee ballots. The County also enlisted help from volunteers who worked with early face-to-face and Election Day Voting. As expected, the counting took place over a few days – Marion County had not finished tallying the absentee ballots until Friday. In total, officials counted 215,912 mail ballots in Marion County. In neighboring Hamilton County, officials reported a total of 44,331 absentee-mail ballots, almost significantly with 53,144 who chose to vote in person on Election Day.
The tallying process took a long time, but Indiana election officials and volunteers were met with a challenge. Relevant press Is called Indiana for President Trump and called the gubernatorial race for Governor Holcomb. More importantly, high turnout rates and absentee ballots indicate that Indiana voters were not stripped of their right to vote before the noon voting deadline.