By Samm Quinn
INDIANAPOLIS – A provision to take the right to vote in Indiana away from out-of-state college students died Wednesday when a House committee voted to send the issue to a summer committee for study.
Rep. Peggy Mayfield, R-Martinsville, offered the amendment to her controversial House Bill 1311 so that other sections so the bill could move forward.
Opponents of the voting measure say it would disenfranchise students from voting in Indiana and could send the message they aren’t welcome in the state.
“What we don’t need to do is send the message to students that we don’t want your participation. As I read this bill, that’s the message I get,” said Julia Vaughn, policy director for Common Cause Indiana.
Mayfield said she authored the bill because residency has always been an issue regarding elections in Indiana.
She argued the bill would keep people from voting in two different states, which is a Class D felony. She also said students who register in the county where they attend college overinflates voter rolls, which contributes “heavily” to the cost of county elections.
Chaim Julian, a deputy clerk in Bloomington, said the bill was wrong for Hoosier students.
“How do you know a student is not going to come to Bloomington, fall in love and stay?” he asked. “Voting is a right, we should not have to prove our right to vote.”
Aaron Dy, president of the IU College Democrats, also testified last week against the bill. He said voter fraud isn’t as much a state issue.
“I think it’s a valid point,” he said. “It’s more of a national issue.”
The amended bill still includes a mandate for counties to recertify district boundaries after each U.S. Census and will allow counties to use electronic signature pads and electronic poll list. It passed the committee 12-0.
Students from Depauw University helped Mayfield work on the redistricting part of the bill. The students said they were happy the bill was able to pass Wednesday minus the voter part.
“I’m excited with the amendments that the bill passed,” Maggie Repko, a junior, said. “Our next step is continuing to make sure all of our research is accurate.”
Samm Quinn is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.