Another state’s effort to make voter registration much easier has been killed off by Republicans.
A Democratic-backed bill introduced in the Indiana House would have established automatic voter registration, in which people are registered to vote when they come in contact with the state motor vehicles department, unless they choose to opt out.
But the measure was gutted in the GOP-controlled Elections Committee. The new, much weaker version would slightly increase the type of interactions for which the motor vehicles department must offer the chance to register.
“I have an open mind and I want everyone to be able to register to vote and to cast their vote, regardless of who they vote for,” committee chair Milo Smith said, according to WBAA. “But at the same time, I need to protect the integrity of every person’s vote.”
Automatic voter registration has been adopted by six states, including California, in recent years, and voting rights advocates say it has the potential to transform the electorate. In Oregon, where it’s been in effect over a year, there have been no significant problems with illegal voting.
Indiana Republicans stoked fear over voter fraud last fall when state police raided the offices of a voter registration group aiming to register African-Americans, seizing documents and even handcuffing one African-American employee. The office of Mike Pence, then the state’s governor, claimed police had uncovered “strong evidence of voter fraud.”
The state still has produced no such evidence. Pence, now the U.S. vice president, is in charge of the Trump administration’s voter fraud investigation.
Indiana joins New Jersey, Illinois, and Nevada as states where Republicans have stood in the way of automatic voter registration. In those three states, Republican governors vetoed automatic voter registration bills.