INDIANAPOLIS – Earlier this year Indiana lawmakers narrowed the window to get a write-in absentee ballot starting with the November election.

To some, it was a minor change that helps clerks deal with lagging mail delivery. But to others it was another example of Indiana making it harder – not easier – for voters to cast a ballot.

A recent study by Northern Illinois University ranked Indiana fourth worst in the nation in its “Cost of Voting Index” – an attempt to quantify the time and effort it took to vote in each presidential election since 1996.

“We are terrible,” said Rep. Tonya Pfaff, D-Terre Haute. “It's the year 2019. We should be opening up access for voters.”

That's why she filed a bill in January that would have allowed same-day voter registration in Indiana. Republicans refused to hear it.

Twenty-one states plus the District of Columbia have same-day registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Immediately following the implementation, states usually see a boost in voter numbers. Same-day registration states also tend to outperform other states in terms of turnout percentages, the organization said.

Pfaff said many citizens don't even think about the election until a few weeks out. And by then in Indiana it's too late to register. That's because Indiana's deadline is 29 days before an election – Monday this year. Six states set their registration deadline at 29 days out.

“I can go online and get a credit card approved in 10 minutes. Why can't I get approved to register to vote that quickly?” she asked. “I don't understand why we are putting so many hurdles in the way of voters.”

Scot Schraufnagel, professor and chair of the political science department at Northern Illinois University, said Indiana's early registration date is the biggest factor in the state's dismal Cost of Voting rankings.
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