Indiana Governor Signs Controversial Bill To Make It Easier to Purge Voter Rolls

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed a bill on Monday that makes it easier for state and local election officials to remove people from voter rolls. 

The new law, which doesn’t go into effect until July of 2025, requires the state election commission to compare voter registration with a list of all credentials given to noncitizens at the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (IBMV). Anyone flagged in that list then has 30 days to provide a proof of citizenship or else they’ll be removed from the voter rolls. 

The bill drew sharp criticism as it made its way through the Indiana General Assembly. During its first committee hearing in the state House of Representatives in January, five people testified against its implementation, according to reporting from the Indiana Citizen. The bill later passed the state Senate in a 34-13 vote, with four Republicans breaking party lines to vote against it. 

“This bill uses bad data sources that will exclude new voters which is why 17 local voting rights groups oppose the legislation,” Julia Vaughn, the executive director of Common Cause Indiana, said in a statement after the bill passed the Senate in February. “It is almost certain this bill will end up in expensive litigation that costs taxpayers’ money, because similar efforts have failed in other states as well.”

One such state is Texas, which has tried to purge noncitizens from the voter rolls for years. In 2021, the elections administrator in Cameron County, Texas sent letters to registered voters they suspected weren’t U.S. citizens, based on data from driver’s licenses and ID card forms, notifying them that their registration would be canceled if they didn’t provide proof of citizenship within 30 days. The Latinx voting rights group Voto Latino sent a letter to Cameron County informing the elections department that this violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which prohibits canceling voter registrations within 90 days of a federal election. 

During testimony in hearings for the Indiana bill, people who spoke out against the bill pointed out that the IBMV’s data isn’t always accurate and it could result in the accidental purging of people eligible to vote, similar to what happened in Texas.

The bill also allows state officials to buy people’s credit information, compare it to voter data and remove anyone with mismatched information. “Here we are talking about data privacy and really throwing all caution to the wind and just say, ‘Yes, state, have our data to do with it what you will,’ which is really, really concerning,” Sen. Andrea Hunley (D) said during the Senate’s debate before the voter, according to the Indiana Citizen. “It’s also concerning not just that we’re going to give our data to an office, but we also are not setting any guardrails around the usage of that data.” 

Read the bill here.