LWVIN Testimony on HB 1116 20 March 2023
Good morning, Members of the Senate Election Committee.
The League of Women Voters of Indiana has two issues with the current form of HB 1116, one related to felony disenfranchisement and the other to an extension for municipalities to redistrict.
The League of Women Voters believes that voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed. HB1116 would add a new penalty to the punishment for election fraud: anyone convicted of felony vote fraud would be disenfranchised for an additional 10 years after time served. Indiana is among the states that return the right to vote after time is served, so this bill would represent significant backsliding on disenfranchisement laws in Indiana.
Indiana does not have a problem with election fraud. Over recent years we’ve had a few isolated cases and a handful of people convicted. Elections in Indiana are safe and secure. Our current laws and procedures to protect the integrity of the vote work well. This disenfranchisement penalty purports to crack down on election fraud, but it’s targeting an imaginary problem. There are other, positive ways to ensure our voting systems are “secure, accurate, recountable, accessible, and transparent”—the criteria advocated by the League.
We strongly oppose this step backward on our election laws and urge you to amend the bill to remove the felony disenfranchisement language.
Regarding local government redistricting, we strongly support an extension for municipalities to redistrict, but equally strongly urge you not to set the date in the middle of an election season. May 15 is less than two weeks after a primary election. Concurring with Indiana Local Redistricting, we urge you to set the extension no earlier than Dec. 31, 2023, or sometime in 2024.
We also support the request for an interim study committee to look at the many reasons why local governments in Indiana so often fail to redistrict, including
· problems reprecincting,
· the order in which local governments redistrict,
· lack of assistance in redistricting and
· confusion about which local governments have to redistrict and which don’t.
Thank you for your time and attention—
Please amend HB 1116
--to remove the felony disenfranchisement language,
--to set an extension for municipalities to redistrict no earlier than Dec. 31, 2023, and
--to create an interim study committee on local government redistricting.