Indiana Lawmakers Consider Changes To Vote-By-Mail System

Jan 26, 2021

Hoosiers used vote-by-mail in record numbers in the 2020 election. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

Indiana lawmakers want to make a few changes to the state’s vote-by-mail system in the wake of a surge of mail-in ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Current law says if a voter who requested a mail-in ballot can’t physically mail it back in, only someone living in their house can do it for them. Valerie Warycha, Indiana secretary of state deputy chief of staff, said legislation would let any family member return the mail-in ballot.

“For example, my mother and father don’t live with me but they are registered voters. I, as their daughter, could take possession of their ballot and turn it in,” Warycha said.

The measure heard in a Senate committee Monday would also change the deadline to return a mail-in ballot. It’s currently noon on Election Day. Under the bill, it would be 6 p.m., when polls close – but only in counties that use vote centers or electronic poll books, which is at least 70 counties statewide.

READ MORE: How Do I Follow Indiana's Legislative Session? Here's Your Guide To Demystify The Process

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Some suggest that would be confusing; lawmakers are working on a way for that 6 p.m. deadline to apply to all counties.

The legislation would also allow Hoosiers to return their vote-by-mail ballots in-person at early voting sites, in case they’re worried the ballots won’t make it through the mail on time.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.