Indiana is among the few states in which voters must meet defined requirements before they can obtain an absentee ballot, which in most cases means casting their votes by mail.

As unfortunate as that may be, especially during these times of the coronavirus pandemic, it is a stark fact of life for Hoosier voters. In two-thirds of U.S. states, registered voters concerned about health risks associated with encountering crowds at the polls this fall have an easy alternative — no-excuse voting by mail.

The confusion voters may feel is understandable. For the June primary election, the state did allow anyone who wanted an absentee ballot to obtain one. Hoosiers liked that method. A lot. More than 550,000 voters cast absentee ballots, a state record.

This time around, in the Nov. 3 general election expected to draw a large turnout, the state reverted back to its traditional format of requiring voters to have one of 11 established excuses in order to obtain an absentee ballot.

Despite Indiana’s frustrating system, we encourage those questioning whether they should vote in this election to closely review the list of reasons a voter can obtain an absentee ballot.

Registered voters can request an absentee vote-by-mail ballot if they:

• Will be absent from their home county during all 12 polling hours on Election Day;

• Have a disability;

• Are 65 or older;

• Have Election Day duties outside their home precinct;

• Will be working through all 12 polling hours on Election Day;

• Will be confined because of illness or injury, or caring for someone confined for the entire Election Day;

• Have a religious event throughout Election Day;

• Are a participant in the state’s address confidentiality program;

• Are a military member or public safety officer;

• Are a state registered sex offender;

• Have no transportation to the polls.

If you meet any of those criteria, you should contact your county clerk’s office or go online to IndianaVoters.com to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot. Those applications must be received by the county by Oct. 22. Once you receive your ballot, mail it in promptly.

We urge Hoosiers not to be discouraged by the challenges and roadblocks to voting that exist in this election. Those who are concerned about the risks of voting in person and who qualify for absentee ballots should take advantage of the option presented them.

The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute

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