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Appeals Court Denies Plea To Expand Indiana's Vote-By-Mail

A photo of an absentee ballot.

(Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

The hopes of Hoosiers who wanted Indiana to expand vote-by-mail for this fall’s election are all but buried after a federal appeals court ruling Tuesday.

A group of Indiana residents sued the state, trying to force it to allow any registered voter to cast a mail-in ballot for the 2020 general election. The state expanded vote-by-mail in the primary but Republicans refused to do so for the fall.

A federal district court judge already denied that request last month. And now, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has done the same. In a unanimous decision, the appellate court said it’s the pandemic, not the state, that’s to blame if voters choose not to cast a ballot this year because of fears around COVID-19. The court’s decision said Indiana has no constitutional duty to expand vote-by-mail.

The appeals court judges also balked at changing Indiana’s system so close to the election.

It’s likely only the U.S. Supreme Court could now force Indiana to expand vote-by-mail for this year’s election – and such a move is unlikely.

The state does allow some people to vote by mail, if they qualify under about a dozen reasons provided by state law.

READ MORE: Can I Vote By Mail? Here's What You Need To Know For Indiana's Elections

The deadline to request a mail-in ballot – which you can do at IndianaVoters.com – is Oct. 22. But officials urge Hoosiers to request and send back in their ballot well ahead of time.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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