Election reform legislation passes Indiana House

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Election reform legislation passes Indiana House

STATEHOUSE – State Representative Dave Ober (R-Albion) authored legislation that makes changes to Indiana’s election law, most notably, straight ticket voting. House Bill (HB) 1008, co-authored by State Reps. Kathy Kreag Richardson (R-Noblesville) and Milo Smith (R-Columbus), passed out of the House with a vote of 59-35.

“In today’s information age, people have more opportunity than ever before to learn about the candidates running for office,” said Rep. Ober. “By making changes to straight-ticket voting, the intent of this legislation is to encourage Hoosiers to choose their leaders based on principles and values, not political party.”

Currently, voters are allowed to select an option on the ballot to cast a vote for all the members of one political party, known as straight ticket voting. Under HB 1008, that option would be removed from the ballot.

Additionally, HB 1008 also moves the date a candidate must withdrawal in order to be replaced on the ballot. Current law provides that the withdraw must happen by July 15, and if a candidate withdraws after that date, the person remains on the ballot. This legislation would change the withdrawal deadline to Aug. 1.

“As Chairman of the Elections and Apportionment Committee, my goal is to support legislation that improves our state’s election process and benefits Hoosiers like pushing back the candidate withdrawal date,” said Rep. Smith. “This new date would provide voters more time to learn about a new candidate’s viewpoints while still allotting counties the opportunity to prepare for the election.”

HB 1008 also allows counties to utilize voting centers through a majority vote. For counties to have a voting center under current law, the county board must have a unanimous vote making it difficult for communities to utilize this time saving procedure. Vote centers allow Hoosiers to vote at any location within their county. This change provides greater access to voters and may save counties money as vote centers can require less poll workers and locations on Election Day.

“For many years, I have worked hard to update, improve and increase integrity within Indiana's election process,” said Rep. Richardson. “Working towards this goal, House Bill 1008 not only increases integrity in that process, but also ensures that counties have more options and flexibility to best determine the procedures that serves their voters. I look forward to continuing to work on ways to continue to modernize the election process and increase voter participation.”

HB 1008 will now go to the Senate for further consideration and debate. For more information on HB 1008, visit iga.in.gov.

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Rep. Ober represents all of Noble County and portion of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties