Gov. Eric Holcomb ought to rethink his position on voting by mail.
“I am just one of those old-fashioned guys that wants to vote in person,” he said at a news conference this month. “And I also just wanted to see with my own two eyes whether it could be pulled off safely. I voted in Marion County, and it was.”
Holcomb should know that one reason voting in the primary went so smoothly is that an unprecedented half a million Hoosiers voted by mail.
And turnout for the November election will no doubt be significantly higher. Presidential elections always draw more voters, and this particular election might be the most consequential in generations.
So, the fact that voting in Marion County might have gone smoothly in June is no indication it will go well in November.
In an interview with The Indianapolis Star, John Zody, the state Democratic Party chair, accused Republicans like Holcomb of playing politics.
“They know when more people vote, Democrats tend to win,” he said.
Zody’s Republican counterpart, Kyle Hupfer, told The Star it was the Democrats who were trying to score political points.
“They want to turn voting into a political issue when it’s actually an issue of state law,” he said.
It might also be an issue of federal law. A group called Indiana Vote by Mail Inc. filed a lawsuit in April claiming Indiana’s current restrictions on absentee voting violate the 14th and 26th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Attorney William Groth noted that most states had already eased their restrictions, and he argued Indiana should follow suit. Groth hopes for a ruling in the case this summer.
Acting now to expand absentee voting would mean election officials wouldn’t have to scramble should the ruling in that case go against the state.
It would also prepare election officials for the possibility that Indiana might be in the midst of a resurgence of coronavirus cases by the time the election comes around. That’s assuming, of course, that we ever get the slowdown we were hoping for with the onset of warmer temperatures in the spring and summer.
State officials should plan for the worst and hope for the best. They should listen to groups like Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP and expand vote by mail to anyone who wants it.
That wouldn’t keep folks like the governor from voting in person, but it might mean shorter lines at polling places this fall.
There is really no reason not to make voting more accessible. We all have a right to make our voices heard, and we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our health to do so.
The Herald-Bulletin, Anderson