Win for Voters: Federal Court Extends Indiana’s Absentee Ballot Return Deadline

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Adapted from a press release

With just a few weeks before Election Day, Hoosier voters received another big win in court Tuesday. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted a request to extend the state’s absentee ballot deadline. The court ruled that all mail-in ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 and received up to 10 days after Election Day can be counted. The previous absentee ballot return deadline was noon on Election Day.

Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights represented Common Cause Indiana & the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP in the case, alongside Indianapolis attorneys Bill Groth, Mark Sniderman, and the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

“This is a huge win for Hoosier voters,” said Julia Vaughn, policy director at Common Cause Indiana. “Indiana has seen a surge in requests for mail-in ballots and this ruling will help ensure all those voters who choose to vote by mail do not face the unnecessary barrier of an overly strict return deadline in making their voice heard.”

“Indiana voters can now rest easier knowing that when they vote absentee by mail, their vote will be counted,” stated Barbara Bolling-Williams, NAACP President of the Indiana State Conference. “Before this ruling, If your ballot was delivered to the Election Office at say 12:10 pm instead of the noon deadline on Election Day, your ballot would have been rejected. Voting absentee by mail is a safe and now certain option for voters.”

“Indiana’s early deadline would have posed a particular risk to the voting rights of young voters and voters of color,” said attorney Jenny Terrell of Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. “This ruling will certainly help avoid mass disenfranchisement for all Hoosiers.”

“With yesterday’s ruling and another last month by the same federal court, Hoosiers who choose to vote safely from home during this unprecedented health emergency can now rest assured that their absentee ballot will be counted, rather than being rejected based on factors beyond their control,” said attorney Bill Groth. “This is a big deal for Hoosier voters, and for democracy itself.”

Read our piece on the original motion here.


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