by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
There has been a lot of debate about no-excuse absentee voting here in Indiana. State Democrats and other activists have been demanding that the governor and the Election Board change the rules and allow for Hoosiers to vote by mail without giving a reason for doing so. The logic and rationale being that no one should have to choose between their health and voting. I agree. No one should have to pick, and no one does.
If you look at the way Indiana elections work, you will see there is no need to choose between your health and voting. First of all, if you’re over age 65, you can vote by mail. And seeing how if you are over age 65, you are likely to contact COVID-19, particularly if you have other health issues, so you don’t have to leave the house. You can vote by mail. Problem solved.
Or, if you have a health condition that makes you more likely to contract COVID-19, guess what? You don’t have to leave the house, You can vote by mail. Now here’s the caveat, you can’t have left the house for something else, like going to the grocery store or out to eat. If you’ve done that, then you can’t vote by mail. Otherwise, once again, a problem is solved.
Here are the 12 reasons the state of Indiana allows someone to vote by mail.
- You have a reasonable expectation you won’t be able to make it to the polls in the 12 hours that they are open.
- You will be confined to your residence, hospital, or healthcare facility due to an illness or injury during the 12 hours the polls are open.
- You’ll be caring for an individual confined to a private residence due to illness or injury during the entire 12 hours the polls are open.
- You are a voter with a disability.
- You are a voter and are at least 65 years old.
- You have official election duties outside your voting precinct.
- You are scheduled to work at your regular place of employment during the entire 12 hours the polls are open,
- You cannot vote at the polls in person due to the observance of a religious holiday or discipline the whole 12 hours the polls are open.
- You are eligible to vote under the “fail-safe” procedures in state law.
- You are a member of the military or a public safety officer.
- You are a “serious sex offender” as defined by state law.
- You are prevented from voting due to the unavailability of transportation to the polls.
So far, 95,000 people have applied for absentee ballots, that number was about 57,000 back in 2016.
Now for those of you who choose to vote in person, you’ve got plenty of time and plenty of places to do it, and you don’t have to worry about your health. You can vote 28 days before election day, and with vote centers being all the rage these days, you have very little to worry about. Also, as Secretary of State Connie Lawson mentioned this week, there will be ample personal protection equipment for the poll workers and enough to take care of the voters. And don’t forget your mask, to social distance and stay at least six feet away from folks you don’t know while you’re in line and don’t forget your hand sanitizer.
So what are you worried about, again?
You don’t have to choose between your health and your right to vote. As I mentioned above, you have 11 reasons to mail in a ballot. Most importantly, if you’re stuck at home due to COVID-19, you can request a ballot, provided you haven’t been running to the store or other errands. And if you’re healthy, you’ll have plenty of time and plenty of places to vote starting 28 days before Election Day.
See, once again, this problem is solved. See you, or maybe not, at the polls.
Abdul-Hakim is the editor and publisher of Indy Politics. His views are his own, but you are free to adopt them as your own.