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County keeping an eye on voting rights bills

CROWN POINT — Michelle Fajman, director of the Lake County Elections and Voter Registration told the elections board last week that her office was keeping track of some bills that are being considered in Indianapolis that would impact Lake County.

A number of them would be working to suppress the vote in Lake County, she claimed.

One of those is Indiana Senate Bill 467, which would limit citizens’ options to vote early. Right now early in-person voting takes place for 30 days prior an election, and is held at remote locations in both north and south county, as well as at the main office of the Lake County Government Center.

Senate Bill 467 reduces the period during which in-person absentee voting may occur at the office of the circuit court clerk or a satellite office to the period that begins on the Saturday immediately preceding election day and ends at noon on the day before election day. That reduces the time to one and one-half days.

Republicans Michael Young and Scott Schneider sponsor this bill.

Senate Bill 366 requires proof of identity of absentee voters. It provides that a voter who votes at a licensed-care facility in which the voter lives must give proof of identification. Under the current law, such a voter is exempt from the proof of identification requirement, a state-issued photo ID.

This bill requires a voter who casts an absentee ballot by mail, other than a military or overseas voter or an address confidentiality voter, to provide a photocopy of the voter’s proof of identification in the mailing envelope along with the mail in vote.

That state issued photo ID is done at the license bureau facilities, which many of these seniors are not able to access.

House Bill 1244 states that schools may not be used as polling sites. The sponsors are state Rep. Shelli Van Denburgh of Crown Point and Sue Errington.

This, according to Fajman, would cripple the county particularly in the older communities where other facilities such as churches are not accessible to persons with handicaps.

Even in Crown Point, a number of schools are used as polling places. If they were all moved to the Lake County Fairgrounds it would be an even bigger zoo than it is now, with the number of polling places that are already there.

In addition there is a cost factor involved. Every polling place held in a building not owned by taxpayers is paid rent for use of the facility. With the number of polling places in the entire county the cost would be enormous, and all paid by tax dollars.



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