(Terre Haute) Tribune Star
In two-thirds of U.S. states, registered voters concerned about encountering crowds at the polls this fall have an easy alternative — no-excuse voting by mail.
Some conduct elections primarily by mail. Other states are allowing any registered voter to apply for an absentee ballot to vote by mail amid the spreading coronavirus pandemic.
Indiana is among the few states conducting the Nov. 3 election without no-excuse voting by mail. Most are considered red states — solid bases for the Republican Party, now led by President Trump, who claims without evidence that voting by mail will lead to “massive electoral fraud,” except in his new home state of Florida, where he has voted absentee by mail.
Hoosiers will need to prepare to cast ballots in person unless they qualify for one of the previously established 11 excuses to vote absentee by mail.
A record 552,197 Hoosiers, including 1,881 from Jackson County, voted absentee by mail in the June primary. State officials suspended the requirement for an excuse to do so, and Hoosiers overwhelmingly responded. Last month, the Indiana Election Commission declined along party lines to implement a similar easing of voting restrictions this fall.
So anyone hoping to vote by mail needs to qualify for one of the 11 state-approved excuses. Registered voters can request an absentee vote-by-mail ballot if they:
Will be absent from their home county during all 12 polling hours on Election Day
Have a disability
Are 65 or older
Have Election Day duties outside their home precinct; will be working through all 12 polling hours on Election Day
Will be confined because of illness or injury
Are caring for someone confined for the entire Election Day
Have a religious event throughout Election Day
Are a participant in the state’s address confidentiality program
Are a military member or public safety officer
A state registered sex offender
Have no transportation to the polls
Jackson County residents who meet those criteria can call the voter registration office at 812-358-6120 or visit indianavoters.com to apply for a mail-in ballot. Applications must be received by the county by Oct. 22. Then once a voter receives their ballot from the county, mail it in promptly.
Everyone else — including many people who voted by mail in June — should plan to cast ballots in person this time. Given the easier and safer option of voting by mail will not be possible for many, early voting will likely be the wisest alternative.
For Jackson County residents, early voting starts with the opening of polling sites Oct. 6 at the Jackson County Judicial Center, 109 S. Sugar St., Brownstown, and the former Jackson Superior Court building, 1420 Corporate Way, Seymour.
The hours for the Brownstown site are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays until Oct. 31, while the hours at the Seymour polling site are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 31. Both sites also will be open from 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 2 but closed Oct. 12 for Columbus Day.
Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said counties are working to make sites as sanitary as possible. Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive order calls for face mask wearing in indoor public spaces.
Let us hope the governor’s call is well heeded.
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