Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson is reminding Hoosiers to use Indiana’s new voter registration forms. The old forms will not be accepted beginning Jan. 1. These improved forms will help decrease the possibility of voter registration fraud by tracking the chain of custody for voter registration applications.
“By creating a custody trail, we are providing county clerks with the tools they need to stop fraudulent registrations that undermine the integrity of our election process,” said Secretary Lawson. “In previous elections, we’ve had fraudulent voter registration forms submitted for Jimmy Johns and Mickey Mouse. Most of the time, these applications are mixed in with legitimate applications collected by groups registering large amounts of voters and then turned in to county voter registration offices just before the registration deadline. The new information required by these forms will give clerks the ability to follow up with the person who submitted the application to ensure the forms were correctly and lawfully filled out.”
The updated registration form includes a new section for individuals who collect voter registration applications to document their name, address and the date they received the completed application. The newly registered voter will also receive a receipt with the name and address of the individual who took custody of the application and date the transaction occurred.
If a person’s application is given to another person, but for whatever reason never arrives at a county voter registration office, these changes will help the county assist that person in registering to vote. The additional information required by the new form can also help the county voter registration office identify any patterns of suspicious activity or clear violations of election law.
The new Indiana voter registration forms also remind groups and individuals who register voters of their own responsibility to protect the election process and prevent disenfranchisement of voters who have placed their trust in these groups or individuals. By putting their name on the application, individuals collecting voter registration forms will be more likely to review the application to ensure it is correctly filled out and filed in a timely manner.
Individuals collecting voter registration applications who receive an application they believe to be false or fraudulent are now required to submit the application to the appropriate county election office with a statement sworn to under penalties of perjury, indicating why they believe the application to be fraudulent, to alert county officials that a violation of election law may have occurred.
In the past, county voter registration offices across Indiana have reported frequent “hoarding and dumping” of voter registration applications. Before this year, individuals or groups could hoard voter registration applications received from voters for weeks or even months before submitting them to county voter registration offices. Large numbers of these applications were then dumped on county offices just before the registration deadline to help conceal “bogus” applications, or as a campaign strategy designed to benefit a candidate, not the voters. Beginning with next year’s election, all applications collected from another person must be turned into the county voter registration office or the Indiana Election Division no later than noon 10 days of receipt of the application, or the deadline to submit applications under state law, whichever occurs first.
These changes in the voter registration process were enacted by the 2013 Indiana General Assembly as part of Senate Enrolled Act 519. The updated forms were approved by the bi-partisan Indiana Election Commission, with assistance from the bi-partisan Indiana Election Division under the guidance of co-directors Brad King and Trent Deckard.