Indiana Republicans moved a bill Wednesday to take away voting rights for a decade from those who commit felony voter fraud. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Hoosiers convicted of felony vote fraud offenses wouldn’t be able to cast a ballot for 10 years under a bill passed 6-4 by the House Elections Committee Wednesday.
The legislation was amended so that misdemeanor offenses wouldn’t count — only felonies. But Democrats tried to remove the suffrage language altogether, with Republicans defending it.
“Once a person has done their time, as with any other offense … whatever the crime may be, after they have served their time, we don’t continue to punish that person,” said Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis. “Ten years is a long time.”
She also said it isn’t right to continue to victimize someone after they have paid their debt to society.
Rep. Kyle Pierce, R-Anderson, pushed back: “I don’t know if we can characterize it as victimization. They’re not a victim. They’re an offender.”
He also noted there are other situations where someone has restrictions lasting beyond a sentence or probation. For instance, felons generally can no longer buy or carry firearms.
Both sides agreed that voter fraud cases are very rare and the provision likely won’t be used often. It would only impact crimes committed after June 30.
“I think it’s important to remember as well [that] this is about protecting our elections from continued violations of voter fraud,” said Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola. He chairs the Elections Committee and authored House Bill 1116. It now moves to the full House.
Hoosiers already can’t vote while incarcerated.
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