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Grade TL;DR

Indiana saw a number of election improvements in 2021 including an expanded absentee ballot deadline, additional photo ID options, and early voting expansion, among other changes. However, the Legislature also made a few anti-voter changes over the past two years. Given the breadth of positive measures signed into law, along with the minor anti-voter measures passed, Indiana received a B- on this year’s progress report.

Looking Back

Where Indiana Started in 2020

  • Automatic Voter Registration: No
  • Online Voter Registration: DMV ID
  • Same-Day Registration: No
  • Restoration of Rights: Prison Disenfranchisement
  • Vote by Mail: Excuse-Only
  • Electronic Registration Information Center Member: No
  • Early Voting Opportunities: In-Person Absentee
  • ID Requirements: Strict Photo ID

Relying on the Cost of Voting Index for Indiana as of 2020, we considered the state a bottom tier state for pre-existing voting policy and compared its 2021-22 activity against other bottom tier states.

How Our Tier Compares:

  • COVI (2020): 41st
  • EPI Score (2020): 31st
  • CLC State Scorecard (2022): 6/10
  • MAP Democracy Rating (2022): FAIR

2021: Two Years Ago

Legislative Action

In 2021, the General Assembly focused mostly on improving Indiana’s election laws and expanding voter access, but unfortunately, they also managed to pass legislation that included anti-voter provisions.

  • S 398 shifts the absentee ballot return deadline from noon on Election Day to close of polls, revises the signature verification process and establishes a cure process for missing or mismatched signatures, expands the list of allowable ballot returners as well as locations for ballot returns, and prohibits election officials from accepting private funding for “preparing, administering, or conducting elections, including registering voters.”
  • H 1479 allows county election boards the option to expand early voting to the third Saturday before the election.
  • H 1485 adds photo IDs from federally-recognized Native American tribes or bands to the accepted voter ID list.
  • S 260 allows counties to begin scanning ballots seven days before the election and provides guidance on the specific pre-processing tasks allowed and the timeframe for those counties that opt in to early processing.
  • H 1365 removes the ability of precinct election boards to begin counting absentee ballots before the close of polls, allows county registrars to cancel a voter registration based solely on an obituary published on a funeral home’s website, and requires counties to notify all absentee ballot applicants that have their application rejected of the reason for the rejection.

2022: This Past Year

Legislative Action

Although the Assembly was mostly focused on other issues during the 2022 session, it did find time to pass legislation to make one additional, and unnecessary, change to the state’s existing private funding ban.

  • S 134 specifically prohibits private funds from being used to pay for temporary election workers. It also requires state agencies to submit yearly budget reports on any staff positions that are funded by private donations.