The Journal Gazette
Saturday, August 01, 2020 1:00 am

Indiana sued over deadline on mail voting

Must be in by noon Election Day

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Common Cause Indiana and the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP filed suit in federal court challenging Indiana's deadline of noon Election Day to receive mail-in ballots during the unprecedented coronavirus crisis.

The complaint, filed Thursday, seeks to block enforcement of Indiana's early ballot return deadline before thousands more Hoosiers are disenfranchised in November, a press release said.

The plaintiffs argue that considering the pandemic and issues related to the rapid expansion of mail-in voting – including the surge of requests for mail-in ballots, strained resources for election administrators, and mail delays – any ballot that is postmarked by Election Day and received within a reasonable amount of time should count.

In Marion County, 1,781 absentee ballots were not counted in the June 2 primary because they came in past noon.

“Indiana has seen a surge in requests for mail-in ballots, and now we must make sure all those voters who chose to vote by mail to protect their health do not face barriers in making their voice heard,” said Julia Vaughn, policy director at Common Cause Indiana.

“As we saw in the June 2020 primary, there were delays in processing mail-in ballot requests, and many mail-in ballots were delivered late. Thousands of Hoosiers then correctly filled out and mailed their ballots by Election Day, but their votes were not counted because of Indiana's burdensome return deadline. We must remove this barrier to voting before ... November.”

Barbara Bolling-Williams, president of the NAACP Indiana State Conference, said voting is fundamental to democracy and is a right – “the arbitrary receipt deadline of noon on Election Day for mail-in ballots is a barrier to this right.”

The challenge was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The plaintiffs are being represented by Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, the national Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and Indianapolis attorneys Bill Groth and Mark Sniderman.

Sign up for our Statehouse Scoop newsletter

Sent each Monday