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Indiana House seeks to apply voter ID law to vote-by-mail ballot applications

The interior of the Indiana House chamber, seen from the speaker's rostrum at the front of the room.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Hoosiers applying to vote by mail in Indiana would have to show some kind of voter ID under legislation approved by the House.

Hoosiers applying to vote by mail in Indiana would have to show some kind of voter ID under legislation approved by the House Wednesday.

Under current law, if you mail in your application to get a vote-by-mail ballot, you prove your identity by signing that application. The signature is then matched against the signature on file with your local election administrator’s office.

Rep. Tim Wesco’s (R-Osceola) bill, HB1334, asks those voters to include the last four digits of their Social Security number and either their driver’s license number, their state ID number or their voter registration number.

Wesco said they can include only one of those numbers but it could delay their application from being approved if the numbers don’t match with their voter registration file.

“I believe that it is time to bring our absentee ballot applications up to par with voting in person,” Wesco said.

Alternatively, Hoosiers could send in a photocopy of voter ID (such as a driver’s license) with their vote-by-mail application.

READ MORE: How do I follow Indiana’s legislative session? Here’s your guide to demystify the process

Rep. Tonya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute) said the bill seeks to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

“And if it makes it harder for any one person to vote, especially the elderly, it’s voter suppression,” Pfaff said.

Wesco acknowledged that voter fraud with mail-in ballots is extremely rare but said even one instance should be treated seriously.

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The bill changed since it left a House committee. Previously, it banned markings or highlighting on a vote-by-mail application. But some county clerks said they used highlighters to help voters fix their applications.

That ban was removed from the bill on the House floor.

Additionally, the bill previously allowed only photocopies of a voter's driver's license or state ID with the vote-by-mail application. That was expanded to include any identification allowed under Indiana law for voting.

The House voted 64 to 27 to send the bill to the Senate.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.