State Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, recently authored and introduced a bill in the Indiana Legislature that would allow the votes of dead people to count.
Senate Bill 155 would require that an absentee ballot completed by a voter who subsequently dies before Election Day to be counted as it would had the voter not died.
Walker noted that no voter ID safeguards are changing, so the bill isn’t a way for fraud to occur with people already dead seemingly coming alive to cast ballots.
Not everyone is on board with the introduced bill, notably Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson. However, there’s a noble reason behind the bill.
State law currently requires county clerks and their staffs to cross-check absentee ballots against information about residents who have died and to invalidate the votes of those who are deceased through an Election Board process.
SB 155 would remove the requirement that county election officials manually compare early voting lists with obituary records to make sure dead people’s votes aren’t cast.
Votes of early voters who succumb are rare, but that doesn’t diminish the tedious work election officials are forced to do now to compare voting records with death notices.
If someone dies after legally casting an early ballot, why shouldn’t it count? What we have now is archaic, and more bother than benefit.
The Association of the Clerks of the Circuit Courts of Indiana support the bill, and state senators seem to agree with its intention. The Senate Elections Committee voted 9-0 to send the bill to the Senate floor, where it passed by a 45-2 vote. Now it’s up to the House to consider it.
While the bill still has multiple hurdles to overcome before it can become law — possible reconciliation between the two chambers because of amendments, possible veto by the governor — it has a noble intent and merits serious consideration.
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