Bill could prevent out-of-state students from voting in Indiana

House Bill 1311, authored by Rep. Peggy Mayfield, R-Martinsville, would amend the Indiana Election Code by preventing out-of-state university students from voting in Indiana elections.

And some IU students aren’t very happy about it. For the leaders of the IU republican and democratic student groups, this bill transcends party lines.

“As a leader of a student group on campus, a resident of Monroe County and the president of College Republicans, I say this is not a partisan issue,” said Daniel Cheesman, IU College Republicans chairman. “This is a student issue. A student rights issue.”

IU College Democrats President Aaron Dy said his organization heard about the bill through Indiana Young Democrats, the official youth caucus of the Indiana Democratic Party, which reaches out to people ages 18 to 35.  

Both democratic groups, along with College Democrats of Indiana, the statewide group for democratic university students, plan to attend HB 1311’s hearing during the House Committee on Elections and Apportionment meeting Wednesday. The meeting is at 3:30 p.m. in Room 156A in the Indiana Statehouse basement, 200 W. Washington St. #220, Indianapolis.

Depending on the hearing outcome, Dy said his group and others plan to evaluate a course of action to stop the bill’s passage.

“I think it’s important that the students make it known that we’re paying attention and that just because we’re students doesn’t mean you can infringe upon our rights without us paying attention,” Dy said.  

Cheesman echoed Dy’s concerns.

He said he met Mayfield on the campaign trail several times last semester, and that IUCR endorsed her as a candidate.

“I support her and I voted for her. I think she is going to represent our district very well,” he said.

But when it comes to HB 1311, Cheesman said his group cannot support disenfranchising certain students. Both IUCD and IUCR work extensively to involve students in the democratic process. At the core of their efforts is registering students to vote. Both Dy and Cheesman said this amendment would make it even more difficult to get students engaged.

“To us, we would see it as a student issue, because no out-of-state student, Democrat or Republican, would be allowed to vote,” Dy said.

Cheesman said this gave both groups an opportunity to stand for something important to the student body as a whole, regardless of party affiliation.

“Especially in these more partisan times, I think it would be great to come together, especially on a local issue,” Cheesman said.  

Mayfield was not available for comment.

Alongside limiting voting rights to just university students paying in-state tuition, HB 1311 proposes other amendments to the Indiana Election Code concerning redistricting guidelines and electronic voting procedures. HB 1311 was introduced Jan. 14 and co-authored by Rep. Jim Baird, R-Greencastle.

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