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Advocacy Groups Sue Indiana Over Statute Limiting Election Day Lawsuits

FILE PHOTO: Steve Burns
/
WTIU

Advocacy groups are suing Indiana over a state law that prevents voters from asking a court to extend polling place hours on Election Day when there are problems voting.

The 2019 lawsays only county election boards – by unanimous vote – can go to court to request extended polling hours on Election Day. Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights senior counsel Ami Gandhi said Hoosier voters that face problems at their polling place should have the right to ask courts for help.

“Eligible voters – and particularly voters of color – are at risk of disenfranchisement,” Gandhi said.

Common Cause Indiana executive director Julia Vaughn said the state law presents another problem – it restricts a court from deciding what polling place problems should prompt extended voting hours.

“Making the closure or failure to open on time of a polling place the only legitimate reason to extend voting hours,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn said there are cases from 2020 – in Georgia and Kentucky – where courts extended polling hours based on citizen lawsuits that show why Indiana’s law could unfairly block Hoosiers from voting.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.