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Bill could allow Hoosiers to register to vote online

POSTED AT 11:57 PM ON Feb. 16, 2009 

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INDIANAPOLIS – A state Senate committee approved two proposals Monday that supporters say would make Indiana elections more accessible and meaningful.

One bill would allow Indiana citizens to register to vote online if they have a valid driver’s license or state identification card. Sen. Connie Lawson, R-Danville, said a secure Web site would allow people to register to vote or change their voter registration information quickly and easily.

Currently Indiana allows people to download voter registration applications online, but they must print and mail the forms.

Washington and Arizona, meanwhile, allow online voter registration. Voters in those states can go to a Web site, enter personal and driver’s license information and then register to vote or change their voter registration information.

Indiana’s proposed system would work in a similar way, using Bureau of Motor Vehicles information to verify that a person is eligible to vote. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles, secretary of state’s office and county voter registration office would be involved in processing applications.

“It will make voter registration more accessible to people,” said Julia Vaughn, policy director for the government watchdog group Common Cause of Indiana.

Another legislative proposal would create a committee to study Indiana’s primary presidential election dates.

The committee would be charged with studying whether the state should move its primary election date from the beginning of May to earlier in the year so the state has more of a say in presidential races. The group would study the cost of a date change and whether voters would have a better chance of having their voices heard. It would also  look into the possibility of joining other Midwest states to hold a regional primary.

Last year’s Democratic primary race between then-Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton marked the first time in four decades that Indiana’s late primary played a significant role in a presidential campaign.

“Voters were really excited to be able to participate in a primary ... that had so much meaning, at least for one party,” Vaughn said. “It increased voter participation. There was just more meaning to people’s vote.”

Sen. Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake, said a change could be made for the 2012 presidential campaign.

“We have plenty of time to work on this issue,” Landske said.

The Senate Elections Committee unanimously approved both proposals, which will now move to the full Senate for consideration.

 

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