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Supporters say bill headed to governor enhances election security; critics say it invites lawsuits

A closeup of a person pressing their finger on the screen of a voting machine.
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
Legislation headed to the governor's desk provides state and local election officials more tools to potentially remove people from the voter rolls.

Legislation headed to the governor’s desk will provide state and local election officials more ways to potentially remove people from the voter rolls.

Supporters, including Sen. Mike Gaskill (R-Pendleton), said the bill enhances election security.

“That the people who vote in our elections are going to be citizens and we’re going to have a little stronger reliability that they live where they’re actually registered,” Gaskill said.

HB 1264 requires the state to compare voter registration to Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles data on credentials given to noncitizens. People flagged by that comparison would have to show proof of citizenship to their county election officials within 30 days in order to be able to vote.

Immigration attorneys said that proof is difficult and sometimes impossible to obtain within 30 days. The BMV data is often out-of-date. And removing voters that way may violate federal law.

READ MORE: Officials, advocates flag privacy, voter suppression concerns for election security bill

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The measure also allows the state to buy people’s credit information, to compare it to voter data and flag potential mismatches.

Sen. Andrea Hunley (D-Indianapolis) said similar bills have popped up in other states — and at least one of those laws have been blocked in the courts.

“And so I’m really unsure why we would pass something that is going to put us at risk for poor use of taxpayer dollars with an expensive lawsuit,” Hunley said.

The Senate approved the bill 34 to 13, largely along party lines.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.