(INDIANAPOLIS) – Attorney General Curtis Hill today applauded a federal appellate court’s summary decision reversing a district court injunction that would have required Indiana election officials to count mailed absentee ballots received after the statutory deadline.
Indiana law says officials may count only those absentee ballots received by noon on Election Day. In response to a lawsuit from Common Cause Indiana, however, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana said that law is unconstitutional for the upcoming election because the COVID-19 pandemic has created a risk that ballots mailed close to Election Day will not be received on time. The judge issued an injunction requiring the state to count absentee ballots received by 10 days after Election Day.
In response to the State’s motion to stay the injunction, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit summarily reversed that ruling on Tuesday. The appellate court wrote that while the COVID-19 pandemic has “caused great loss,” it is “not a good reason for the federal judiciary to assume tasks that belong to politically responsible officials.”
“People who worry that mail will be delayed during the pandemic can protect themselves by using early in-person voting or posting their ballots early,” the court wrote in its ruling.
Attorney General Hill praised the ruling, and has argued for weeks now that changes to Indiana’s election system this close to Election Day would do more harm than good.
“Our system provides adequate opportunity for all Hoosiers to cast a ballot by Election Day, and the absentee ballot-receipt deadline as written by the Indiana General Assembly helps most races to be called on Election Day, and not days or weeks after,” Attorney General Hill said. “The U.S. Supreme Court has said repeatedly that courts should not issue election-related injunctions at the eleventh hour, and we are pleased that the court of appeals has implemented that directive.”
In addition to Election Day voting, Hoosiers may cast a ballot at various early-voting locations for 28 days prior to Election Day. Indiana also permits mail-in absentee voting in 12 different circumstances, including when voters are disabled or elderly, or when voters expect to be away from their home counties on Election Day.
Visit indianavoters.in.gov to find your polling place, request an absentee ballot, check the status of your registration and more.
The 7th Circuit’s ruling is attached.