ICYMI: Indiana Business Leaders Chastise Gov. Eric Holcomb For Refusing to Expand Access to Mail-In Voting During The Pandemic
Indiana business and municipal leaders are calling on GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb to take decisive action and expand access to mail-in voting during the pandemic. According to the Washington Post, Indiana is one of only six states without either no-excuse absentee voting or the ability to cite fear of contracting COVID-19 as a reason to vote by mail for the general election.
Holcomb has previously rejected calls from Hoosiers to institute vote-by-mail expansions and instead encouraged people to vote in person – which the corporate and civic leaders feared could overwhelm the polls due to a national shortage of poll workers and fewer open polling places.
Last month, former Republican Lt. Gov. John Mutz accused Holcomb of caving to political pressure from the White House in his refusal to enact expanded vote-from-home measures. In an op-ed, Mutz said, “Hoosiers must not be forced to choose between protecting their health and exercising the most basic act of citizenship. Nor should we be scared to vote.”
In addition to refusing to make it easier for Hoosiers to vote in the general election, Holcomb has stayed silent as Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill attempts to disenfranchise voters. Hill recently filed a brief in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that suggested eliminating the vote-by-mail option for voters over the age of 65 – the population which is most vulnerable to COVID-19.
Read more about Gov. Holcomb’s refusal to expand the right to vote during the pandemic below:
Exercising the right to vote is the foundation of a successful democracy. Our right to vote is enshrined and protected multiple times in the U.S. Constitution.
Yet voter participation has been abysmal across the country, with Indiana ranking among the worst.
According to the 2019 edition of the Indiana Civic Health Index, Indiana ranked 41st for turnout in the 2016 presidential election and 43rd in the 2018 midterm election, despite having a record turnout.
We need the other half of eligible voters in our state to participate in our democracy, but the COVID-19 pandemic presents a new set of challenges to potential voters.
We call on our Indiana government leaders to take action now to ensure that people can vote safely in this election. Amid the pandemic, we are one of only six states without either no-excuse mail-in absentee voting or the ability to cite virus fears as a reason to vote by mail for the 2020 general election.
Of the 11 reasons to request an absentee ballot by mail, none explicitly allows for the challenges posed by the pandemic. Voters who fear jeopardizing their health or the health of their loved ones should be permitted to vote by mail.
We encourage Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Election Commission to join the great majority of states and institute no-excuse mail-in absentee voting, just as they did during the primary election.
Indiana is also one of only three states to close its polls at 6 p.m. Because of constraints caused by the global pandemic, including challenges to recruit poll workers, there will be fewer polling places open, making it harder for voters to get to the polls by 6 p.m.
There are too many stories of people working all day, rushing to get to polling locations only to stand in line for hours or missing the voting deadline altogether.
We need Indiana election officials to act now to expand mail-in absentee voting and avoid the problems faced in the primary, when Indiana’s system was overwhelmed by the massive increase in absentee ballots.
The governor and the Indiana Election Commission have the power to institute no-excuse mail-in absentee and we urge them to use it. In addition, election officials in all 92 counties must ensure an adequate number of polling places by starting their work early, ensuring that polling places are fully staffed and that all locations are communicated to all Hoosiers.
As we head into this November’s general election, we must all do our part to encourage participation in our democracy. Every voice must be heard and every vote counted. This is why we support no-excuse mail-in absentee voting and the option to safely vote in-person on and before Election Day.
We urge our leaders to act now.