Groups Urge Lawmakers to Protect, Not Restrict, Voting Rights
Friday, July 23, 2021
Correction: Link to the 2020 SB 334 is now correct. 4:10pm MST, 8/3/2021
INDIANAPOLIS -- Voting-rights advocates applaud this week's federal appeals-court decision to prevent Indiana from purging some voters from the rolls without notifying them first. However, they said there is more work to do to ensure everyone has access to a ballot.
Two Indiana state laws, Senate Bill 442 in 2017 and Senate Bill 334 in 2020, aimed to remove a voter's registration if it appears they'd registered in another state.
Barbara Bolling-Williams, Indiana state conference president for the NAACP, said neither held up in court, because they violated the National Voter Registration Act.
"The federal act requires that there is contact with the voter, you know, to say, 'It appears that you're registered in Ohio, is that you? Have you moved to Ohio; are you no longer going to be registered to vote here in Indiana?'" Bolling-Williams explained.
If a voter does not respond, officials need to give notice that the person is set to be removed from the rolls, and then wait two federal election periods.
Bolling-Williams pointed out other policies, like same-day registration, have increased access in other states, but Indiana's voter registration period ends 30 days before Election Day.
Legal battles around voter purges and other laws to restrict voting access, especially for historically marginalized communities, are not unique to Indiana.
As of July 14, 18 states had passed 30 laws in 2021 alone, making it harder to vote, according to the
Brennan Center for Justice. Proponents argued they are meant to prevent fraud, but Bolling-Williams countered lawmakers are not taking voters' needs into account.
"In this climate of not wanting people to vote, basically, we understand that if everybody has an opportunity to vote, then the will of the people will reign, and not the dictatorship of a few," Bolling-Williams contended.
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., and Sen Todd Young, R-Ind., were among those who blocked federal legislation, the "For the People Act," which would have prevented many of the new, more restrictive state laws from going into effect.
References:Court ruling 7th Circuit Court of Appeals 07/19/2021
Senate Bill 442 (2017) 04/13/2017
National Voter Registration Act U.S. Dept. of Justice 05/20/1993
Voter registration rules Ind. Sec'y of State 2021
Voting laws information Brennan Center for Justice 07/22/2021
For the People Act 2021
Senate Bill 334 (2020) Statehouse website 03/21/2020
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