Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law Monday an absentee voter bill which proponents say will bring uniformity to the voting process but opponents counter will only make casting a ballot more difficult for Hoosiers.

House Enrolled Act 1334 was among 68 bills Holcomb signed May 1.

The measure requires voters filing an application for an absentee ballot must also provide a photocopy of either their driver’s license or their identification card for non-drivers. In addition, county election boards are required to implement procedures to follow if at least one of the numbers cannot be matched with the voter’s registration record.

Also the Bureau of Motor Vehicles must provide driver’s license numbers, ID card numbers and the last four digits of a Social Security number each day to the Secretary of State and Election Division. In turn, the Secretary of State and Election Division will are required to pass along that information to each county’s voter registration office.

The bill’s author, Rep. Timothy Wesco, R-Osceola, described the bill as making the voting process uniform. Voters going to the polls must present an ID and verify their address before being given a ballot.

“Essentially, what (HEA) 1334 does is bring up absentee voting by mail to the same standard as voting in person through the relationship of voter ID,” Wesco told The Indiana Citizen.

However, opponents say the bill will place more hurdles to voting particularly for elderly and disabled Hoosiers as well as minorities. Voter advocacy groups had sent Holcomb a letter asking him to veto the bill, asserting the legislation would place restrictions on the right to vote in violation of Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Constitution.

“Requiring additional fields of identification in absentee ballot applications would pose unnecessary additional barriers for marginalized communities,” Ami Gandhi, director of voting rights and civic empowerment at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, said after the bill passed by the Indiana General Assembly. “Let’s be clear: This bill would actually reduce election integrity by restricting access.”

The original version of HEA 1334 did not require voters to provide a photocopy of their IDs. However, Wesco amended that provision into the bill before the House Election and Apportionment Committee passed the measure along party lines.

With the governor’s signature, the bill will become effective July 1, 2023. – Marilyn Odendahl

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