Legislators Debate How Polling Policies Affect Minority Vote

The Chicago Lawyers‘ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law says it took 800 election complaints from Hoosiers last year.

voting

Photo: Noah Coffey (flickr)

Republican legislators say the idea that anyone is trying to suppress the minority vote in the state is unfounded.

Minority voters are going to the General Assembly with accusations that officials are trying to discourage them from voting.

The Chicago Lawyers‘ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law says it took 800 election complaints from Hoosiers last year. The civil rights group classifies about 100 of the complaints as intimidation, which sometimes includes disinformation such as a robocall falsely telling people they could vote by phone.

State Representative Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, says some Marion County precincts changed polling place locations last year with no notice or explanation, often in minority communities. She charges there is no explanation other than a deliberate effort to hold down minority turnout.

“Not just change them because you decided you wanted to change them. There should be a legitimate reason and to better communication with voters when their polling location has changed,” Pryor says.

Representative Kathy Richardson, R-Noblesville, acknowledges Republicans and Democrats have philosophical differences over voter ID and unrestricted absentee voting.

“It may be a result of expecting people to have their own responsibility about getting registered, but as far as purposely setting out to keep people from voting, that’s ridiculous,” she says.

But Richardson says legislators will consider Pryor‘s proposal to finalize polling places in September and make officials explain relocations.

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