INDIANAPOLIS — With a reported 970 additional Hoosiers diagnosed with COVID-19 between Wednesday and Thursday, according to the Indiana State Department of Health, and the numbers of infections rising since lockdown ended, several state organizations are joining forces with the hope of improving voter safety for the upcoming election.
On Thursday, Vote Safe Indiana and coalition partners ACLU of Indiana, Vote.org, Indiana Vote By Mail, League of Women Voters of Indiana, Women 4 Change, Progressive Thought Matters, Greater Indianapolis NAACP, and Common Cause Indiana sent a letter demanding several changes to the way Hoosiers conduct elections to Governor Eric Holcomb, Secretary of State Connie Lawson, and the Indiana Election Commission.
According to Vote Safe Indiana, a nonpartisan nonprofit with the mission of improving safe voting rules amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, the letter asks for changes needed to conduct a safe and fair general election in 2020, including:
No-excuse absentee voting to the 2020 General Election,
Allow mail-in ballots to be counted if postmarked by Election Day on Nov. 3, if received by Nov. 9.
Allow safe drop-off locations in each Indiana county to collect absentee ballots through 6 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.
In a press release Thursday, Vote Safe Indiana said their coalition partners believe all Hoosiers deserve to vote in safe conditions, and Indiana should not require voters to risk their lives to vote.
“Voting is a vital act for the future of our state and country,” said Arielle Brandy, Vote Safe Indiana founding Board Member.
“As a single mother, facing the greatest health crisis of my lifetime, it is important to me and all Hoosiers to have no-excuse absentee voting for a safe and fair election in 2020.”
Katie Blair, Advocacy and Public Policy director of the ACLU of Indiana, said every elected official should advocate for every Hoosier voice to be heard at the ballot box during these increasing infection numbers.
“Old-fashioned tactics will not meet the challenge this pandemic poses to our democracy,” she said. “America abandoned old-fashioned norms in voting when women gained the right to vote in 1920, and Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965.”
“To be legitimate,” she continued, “a democracy must take every possible step to ensure that citizens have the ability to exercise their right to vote, safely and freely. With COVID-19 again on the rise in Indiana, we know this pandemic is posing significant barriers to the ballot. Indiana Election officials must act now to enact no-excuse absentee voting, and to ensure every Hoosier has the means to execute their fundamental right to vote this November.