NewsPublic Affairs / January 8, 2018

Senate Panel Passes Bill To Allow Dead People's Votes To Count

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Indiana Election Division co-director Brad King (center) addresses the Senate Elections Committee. - Brandon Smith/IPB News

Indiana Election Division co-director Brad King (center) addresses the Senate Elections Committee.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

A Senate committee approved legislation Monday to ensure every valid absentee vote is counted – even if the voter dies before Election Day.

That approval comes despite objections from Secretary of State Connie Lawson’s office.

Current law invalidates absentee ballots if the voter dies after casting it, but before it’s counted on Election Day.

Elkhart County Clerk Wendy Hudson represents the Indiana Clerks Association and says the group strongly supports changing the law. She says clerks aren’t always notified in time that a voter has died.

“So it’s already an imperfect requirement,” she says.

And Hudson notes there are typically only one or two instances per election cycle.

Indiana Election Division co-director Brad King says he and Secretary Lawson support the change. But he says the bill isn’t the right way to make it.

“And I respectfully submit to you today that the way to do it is through amending the Indiana Constitution,” King says.

King says a provision of the state constitution does allow a person’s vote to be counted if they, for instance, move before Election Day but their name still appears on the voter roll at their former residence. But he notes the provision applies to a citizen – and King says citizenship ends at death.

The Senate Elections Committee unanimously advanced the bill – while its author, Sen. Greg Walker (R-Columbus), acknowledges it will need work.

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