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home : most recent : statewide implications February 16, 2019

2/5/2019 6:32:00 PM
Nixing partisan voter challenges at state primaries wins in Senate

Dan Carden, Times of Northwest Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — Voting in a primary election could get less contentious under a proposal approved 31 to 18 Monday by the Indiana Senate.

Senate Bill 194, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores, eliminates the opportunity to challenge a voter's political party affiliation and force the voter to swear allegiance to a particular party to cast a primary election ballot.

"You can see how cumbersome that could be and serve to disenfranchise voters and plug up the electoral system," Bohacek said.

"We need not look any further than the Porter County elections of this last cycle to see that's not a good thing."

Bohacek also pointed out that requiring a primary voter whose party loyalty is challenged to agree to support the party in the general election is "absolutely, positively unenforceable," since Indiana uses secret ballots.

Under the plan, which now goes to the House, voters still could be challenged at the polls for any other customary reason, such as identity or precinct residency.

Nevertheless, state Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange, suggested the measure opens the door for members of one political party to vote in another party's primary to help a weak candidate likely to lose in the general election to win the nomination.

Bohacek noted that already is possible since Indiana does not require political party membership to vote in a primary election, and a partisan challenge does not, in most cases, actually prevent a challenged voter from casting a ballot.

"All this bill does is take away this opportunity to plug a primary up and slow a process down," Bohacek said. "That's all it does."

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