These are the most common mistakes election boards see on mail-in ballot applications, at the polls
As elections approach, local officials are urging individuals to be vigilant when filling out ballots and applications for mail-in ballots.
In Indiana, not everyone is eligible for vote-by-mail. They must fall under one of 12 acceptable categories:
- I have a specific, reasonable expectation of being absent from the county on election day during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
- I will be confined to my residence, a health care facility, or a hospital due to illness or injury during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
- I will be caring for an individual confined to a private residence due to illness or injury during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
- I am a voter with disabilities. NOTE: if you are unable to mark the ballot or sign the ballot security envelope, you must contact the county election board to process your application.
- I am a voter at least 65 years of age.
- I will have official duties outside of my voting precinct.
- I am scheduled to work at my regular place of employment during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
- I am unable to vote at the polls in person due to observance of a religious discipline or religious holiday during the entire twelve (12) hours the polls are open.
- I am a voter eligible to vote under the “fail-safe” procedures in IC 3-10-11 or 3-10-12.
- I am a member of the Indiana National Guard deployed or on assignment in Indiana or as a public Safety Officer.
- I am a “serious sex offender” (as defined in IC 35-42-4-14(a)).
- I am prevented from voting due to unavailability of transportation to the polls.
Brent Stinson is the deputy director for administration at the Marion County Election Board. He said people sometimes forget to specify why they are requesting to vote by mail.
“People sometimes forget to check one of those boxes,” he said. “And the voter themselves has to check that we can't assume a reason why somebody is applying.”
READ MORE: What do I need on Election Day? The midterm election is Nov. 8
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Another mistake the board sees on vote-by-mail applications is problems with signatures.
“The most common mistakes we receive would be no signature or an incomplete signature on the application,” Stinson said. “When somebody submits that to us, we have to compare that application to their ballot when it returns. And if it's missing, or if it's deemed by a bipartisan team not to match, then we have a whole other legal process that we have to go through.”
He urges those receiving a mail-in ballot to ensure their mailing address is up to date, particularly if they need their ballot mailed to their workplace or somewhere else besides their residential address. He also says an updated date of birth and phone number are helpful.
“If you include your date of birth, that's going to help us find you get your ballot quicker,” he said. “And then the phone number is just in case we do have speak to you about an issue that we find, we can reach out to you with the most up-to-date phone number and help speed that curing process up a little bit rather than trying to communicate through mail.”
For in-person voting, Stinson explained this is much more straightforward as there are people and machines checking ballots on site.
He urges those going in-person, though, to bring a valid ID and ensure their voter registration is updated in advance.
Under Indiana’s 2005 voter ID law, your photo identification must meet four criteria: it must display your photo, your name (though, it doesn’t have to be a perfect match), an expiration date and either be current or have expired sometime after the date of the last General Election, and issued by the state of Indiana or the U.S. government.
This could include an Indiana driver’s license, a U.S. passport, Indiana State Identification Card, or military ID card. Student IDs at Indiana universities also work, so long as they meet all other criteria. However, this does not apply to private universities.
Contact reporter Violet at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @ComberWilen.