Voting Rights Groups Challenge Indiana’s Proof of Residency Policy
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, July 21, two voting rights groups — Common Cause Indiana and the League of Women Voters of Greater Lafayette — filed an administrative complaint (a document outlining concerns that’s filed with a state agency) with the Indiana Elections Division regarding Tippecanoe County Board of Elections and Registration’s enforcement of a proof of residency policy. The administrative complaint alleges that the county board is requiring first-time voters to provide additional proof of residency if their forms — either state or federal — are returned in person on their behalf, even though Indiana law only requires voters who return their applications by mail to provide this documentation. The voting rights groups argue that voters using federal forms to register already attest to the accuracy of their addresses so this requirement violates state and federal law.
This policy, the groups allege, will impact young voters of color in particular: “[T]hese young, first-time voters, including young people of color, are less likely than older registrants to have a photo ID that reflects their current address or other easily obtainable proof of residency.” This also impacts the ability of organizations such as the League of Women Voters of Greater Lafayette to conduct voter registration drives. The groups detail the impact this policy has on their work as it pertains to young voters by noting that “LWV registers more than five hundred seniors at area high schools annually and regularly conducts voter registration drives at Ivy Tech Community College Lafayette and Purdue University, state institutions with more than 45,000 undergraduate students, the majority of whom are first-time voters and thus subject to the Board’s unlawful policy.”
To remedy this situation, the groups ask the board to retroactively approve all applications since 2018 that were wrongly flagged by Tippecanoe County for needing additional proof of residency. The administrative complaint requests that the Indiana Elections Division “use its authority in the next ninety days to resolve these violations by bringing the Board into compliance with the law” and states that the groups are “prepared to move forward with litigation if a resolution is not achieved.” On July 22, Tippecanoe County Clerk Julie Roush filed a response denying the administrative complaint’s allegations.