First Responders and voters without transportation are now able to vote by mail!
Indiana has expanded the number of Hoosiers entitled to vote an absentee ballot by mail over the last several years.
There used to be a time in Indiana, when absentee voting was severely limited to those who were physically unable to be present on election day to vote at their polls. In the 90’s absentee voting in the clerk’s office was opened up to anyone regardless of reason.
However, the right to vote an absentee ballot by mail is still limited to those who meet a statutory reason, but even then those categories have expended over the years.
In the last few years, Indiana has added the following three categories of registered voters entitled to vote by mail:
(1) Military and Public Safety Officers
(2) Serious sex offenders
(3) Voters without transportation
In 2015, Indiana lawmakers voted to permit those registered voters who are “prevented from voting due to the unavailability of transportation to the polls” to vote absentee by mail. A bi-partisan team of local election administrators worked with lawmakers to make this a reality. No longer will voters have to rely on political parties for rides to the polls and can instead vote from the comfort of their home.
Those military members absent from the state have already been able to vote by mail, fax or email for some time. However, military members not on active duty and staying in Indiana have recently been added to the group who can vote by mail.
“Public Safety Officers” is a broad category and was defined in Ind. Code 3-5-2-31.5. Lawmakers considered that this provision would apply to your core group of first responders (law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs) as well as doctors, nurses, emergency medical personnel, community correction officers, probation officers, and even those called away from the state on humanitarian crises (think utility workers called away during the hurricanes on the east coast). By state estimates, this group is larger than 55,000.
Individuals who have committed certain sex offenses are prohibited from entering a school, and schools are often used as polling places. Indiana lawmakers expanded absentee voting by mail to include these registered voters in 2015. Just last week, a federal judge permitted a suit to proceed against the state of Indiana on a challenge to its law prohibiting certain sex offenders from entering school property that is used as a polling place.
For those who are eligible and would like to vote by mail, you can access an application here.