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« Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors | Main | IN and NC Set Precedents (or Presidents?) »

Breaking: Indiana Voters Turned Away

By Ally Klimkoski
May 6, 2008

According to a release from the Student PIRGs a number of Indiana voters were INCORRECTLY turned away from the polls today and given MISINFORMATION about the validity of their identification preventing them from casting a ballot they legally should have been able to cast.

Let me remind you - that when the US Supreme Court made its decision they decided...

"In a 6-to-3 ruling in one of the most awaited election-law cases in years, the court rejected arguments that Indiana’s law imposes unjustified burdens on people who are old, poor or members of minority groups and less likely to have driver’s licenses or other acceptable forms of identification. Because Indiana’s law is considered the strictest in the country, similar laws in the other 20 or so states that have photo-identification rules would appear to have a good chance of surviving scrutiny."

According to the release:

"Student PIRG New Voters Project staff stationed at polling locations near Indiana campuses today are beginning to hear from young voters turned away at the polls for a failure to meet voter identification laws upheld by the Supreme Court last week. The law, which requires voters to possess in-state or federal identification, such as an Indiana Driver’s License or federal passport, has been widely criticized for creating additional voting barriers. Three incidents of student voters turned away from the polls documented by Student PIRG staff in past two hours are included below. To contact profiled voters, please contact Sujatha Jahagirdar at (323) 309 6120.

19-year old Angela Hiss, a sophomore and computer science major at the University of Notre Dame, was turned away from the polls this afternoon as she attempted to vote in her first election. After arriving at her polling location, she presented several forms of identification - her school ID, a piece of mail that showed her campus address and an Illinois driver’s license – but was misinformed that she could not vote because she could not show in-state ID. Poll-workers, according to Hiss, also did not advise her that she could cast a provisional ballot, as required by state and federal law. Instead, they suggested visiting local Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain the in-state identification required by Indiana’s newly-upheld law, an endeavor that could take hours, she explained. Furthermore, while the law allows her ten days to obtain the required ID from the DMV, Hiss’s travel plans will not give her time. As a result, she said, she will not be able to vote in the primary.

19-year old Allyson Miller, a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame and volunteer at a local children’s clinic was similarly turned away from the polls today. An Indiana resident since the age of five, Miller left her driver’s license in her dorm room, and arrived straight from class at the polls with her school ID and registration confirmation papers from the County Registrar. Upon arriving, however, poll-workers did not allow her to vote without a state-issued ID. “I plan to come back because voting is a big deal to me,” said Miller, “but it’s a huge inconvenience, especially with a final tomorrow.”

19-year old Becky Jenkins, a sophomore and member of the tennis team at Butler University was also unable to vote in her first election today. “I didn’t know that I had to have an Indiana ID,” she said after she was turned away from the polls for attempting to cast her ballot using a driver’s licenses issued by the State of Illinois. When asked if she would instead cast a provisional ballot, Jenkins also said her travel plans wouldn’t allow her to.

In similar news a local Nun was denied the right to vote by her local Sister

"About 12 Indiana nuns were turned away Tuesday from a polling place by a fellow sister because they didn't have state or federal identification bearing a photograph.

Sister Julie McGuire said she was forced to turn away her fellow members of Saint Mary's Convent in South Bend, across the street from the University of Notre Dame, because they had been told earlier that they would need such an ID to vote.

The nuns, all in their 80s or 90s, didn't get one but came to the precinct anyway.

"One came down this morning, and she was 98, and she said, 'I don't want to go do that,'" Sister McGuire said. Some showed up with outdated passports. None of them drives.

They weren't given provisional ballots because it would be impossible to get them to a motor vehicle branch and back within the 10 days allotted by the law, Sister McGuire said. "You have to remember that some of these ladies don't walk well. They're in wheelchairs or on walkers or electric carts."

Right after the Supreme Court upheld the law passed by Indiana - Kansas followed suit and passed its own Voter ID law that will take effect in 2010 - and Missouri's law that was previously struck down by the state supreme court might also now have legs.

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