Vote change protects constitutional right

South Bend Tribune

The rule for voting absentee by mail In Indiana is limited: You can only do so only if you have an acceptable excuse, such as being out of town on Election Day or observing a religious holiday.

Then came the coronavirus outbreak — and the need for social distancing and staying at home.

The voting process is just one of the many systems that has been upended by the pandemic.

And Indiana responded to the challenge, first by moving the May primary to June.

The Indiana Election Commission also agreed with Gov. Eric Holcomb that the need to reduce personal interactions during this time justifies allowing Hoosiers to vote by mail for the rescheduled Democratic and Republican primaries.

The bipartisan commission authorized “noexcuse” absentee voting by mail for this election.

It was the right thing to do.

Normally, Hoosier residents would have to apply for an absentee ballot, provide an acceptable excuse for doing so, and be approved by the county election board. But in the new normal, accommodations must be made.

Casting a ballot by mail will now be an option for all Indiana registered voters in the upcoming primary election. And all deadlines have been extended 28 days to correspond with the new date.

According to The Indiana Lawyer website, the election commission is also directing the Indiana Election Division to create an online application process for voters to request mail-in ballots. And if a voter has already submitted an application to vote by absentee by mail, it will be accepted.

The commission is scheduled to meet again April 22 to decide if the primary election should be conducted entirely by mail.

Making such changes to the voting process — changes Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody described as “a historic expansion” of voting rights — will bring complications. But in this time of uncertainty, the changes are necessary to ensure the safety of Hoosiers and protect the right to vote.

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