Federal Appeals Court Upholds Indiana Law Permitting Only County Election Boards To Ask State Courts To Extend Polling Hours

(INDIANAPOLIS) – Attorney General Curtis Hill today commended the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for upholding an Indiana law permitting a county election board, but no one else, to request an order from a state court extending voting hours when justified by state law.

Such extensions may be necessary in the event of technical problems at polling places, but they cannot be undertaken without a court order making specific state law findings.

A lawsuit by Common Cause Indiana argued that anyone should be able to request such a court order, but Attorney General Hill observed  that the legislature limited the law’s reach in order to avoid inundating courts with demands for extended polling hours. Indiana law, he added, affords voters ample opportunity to cast their ballots even before Election Day, and the statute at issue does not preclude voters from filing claims under federal law in either state or federal court.

Attorney General Curtis Hill

“Fortunately, we are seeing federal appeals courts nationwide recognizing states’ legitimate authority to enact and enforce reasonable election laws,” Attorney General Hill said. “Taken as a whole, election regulations must exist for elections to be fair, meaningful and legitimate.”

Attorney General Hill also recently prevailed in two other federal appellate cases involving Indiana’s election laws. In those cases, the 7th Circuit upheld state laws 1) prohibiting election officials from counting mail-in ballots received after noon on Election Day and 2) permitting only some categories of voters, including the elderly, to cast mail-in ballots.

Attached is the 7th Circuit’s most recent decision involving Indiana election law.