Potential changes to state’s voter registration laws presented to study committee

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Changes could be in store for how you can register to vote in Indiana. A top state election official wants lawmakers to consider automatic voter registration. Meanwhile a state senator said he plans to submit a bill for same-day registration.

It all happened during the summer study committee examining election laws in the Hoosier state.

While it remains to be seen what could happen, lawmakers said to say they’re open to anything to boost voter turnout.

To some, Indiana should look at giving voters the chance to register automatically when visiting the BMV.

“That actually would be very interesting for you as a body to examine and look at,” said Angela Nussmeyer, the co-director for the Indiana Election Division.

That call applauded by some lawmakers.

“We should make it as easy as possible for people to vote,” said Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage.

But some lawmakers aren’t sold on the concept. Only ten states have automatic voter registration.

“Automatic voter registration seems to have the effect of bloating out the rolls where you don’t necessarily have people following through and voting,” said Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus.

Sen. Walker said he has a different plan to boost voter turnout. He plans on presenting a bill for Hoosiers to have same-day registration, meaning voters can register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day.

“I think that’s a great way to not only capture the occasional voter, the one who only thinks about it on election day, but it’s also a great way for our county to use as a resource as well to keep their voter rolls as clean and concise and as accurate as they can,” he said.

Sen. Tallian said supports this push. “We could do it right then,” she said, describing who it could help. “…Somebody said ‘I moved here a couple months ago and I forgot to do it.’”

It would require a law change. Right now the last day to register is nearly one month before an election.

“Hopefully same-day registration could also make up that extra little bit that we need,” said Sen. Tallian.

Data shows there could be about 200,000 Hoosiers unregistered.

Others said it could take more than registration to get people out to the polls.

“(The reasons) those who are currently not registered to vote or intermittent voters give for not voting is their lack of familiarity with the candidates and the process,” said J. Bradley King, the other director of the Indiana Election Division.

Previous numbers showed Indiana voter turnout in 2016 was about 58 percent. Secretary of State Connie Lawson addressed that Wednesday, saying the state recently removed people who had died and others who had left the state, and it reflected the voter turnout being 65 percent.