Advocates urge voters to update registration
By Mark Taylor Post-Tribune correspondent September 1, 2012 11:00PM
Updated: October 3, 2012 6:10AM
A board member of the League of Women Voters of the Calumet Area said she’s concerned about voter suppression in the coming November presidential election.
Barbara Schilling, of Hammond, said far too many Hoosiers are unaware they could be denied the right to vote if they have changed their name (usually through marriage) or moved and changed addresses since registering to vote.
“When you go to the polling place, you have to show specific identification,” Schilling said. “We’ve been going to schools and churches and have found people are having problems. Their names and addresses have to match the names and addresses on their ID cards, otherwise, they won’t let you vote.”
But she said getting the ID card in the first place is problematic for some voters, particularly the elderly and handicapped, some of whom have trouble getting to license bureaus and others who lack birth certificates or other necessary documents to obtain Indiana ID cards.
Schilling advised residents who have changed their names or addresses to fill out voter registration forms.
“It’s not just for new voters,” she said, noting that the fast approaching deadline is Oct. 9. “And if voters are denied or there are any problems at the polling place, they should demand provisional ballots. It’s their right to request and fill one out. That goes to the county courthouse and they decide there whether to keep it or throw it out,” she explained. “But don’t be disfranchised.”
Schilling cited the experience of another Hammond woman who mistakenly was purged from the polls.
The name of Mary Jo Gorman’s late mother, Mary J. Gorman of Whiting, should have been purged from the polls after her 2000 death, but instead her daughter’s name was purged without noification.
“When I went to vote they did not have my name at the polls and wouldn’t let me vote. They refused to give me a provisional ballot,” said Gorman, who is now the voter services chairwoman of the Calumet chapter of the League of Women Voters. “I had to reregister. I was really ticked and upset that I could not vote.”
Gorman predicted there will problems this fall.
“People in nursing homes don’t always have bills with their names and addresses on them and most college students’ ID cards don’t have expiration dates, which are required. They’re going to disenfranchise a whole lot of people. I don’t know if voters aren’t aware of what’s going on, or that they just don’t care.”