Easier to vote in Republican areas, harder in Democratic ones

Voter suppression in Indiana:

State and local Republicans have expanded early voting in GOP-dominated areas and restricted it in Democratic areas, an IndyStar investigation has found, prompting a significant change in Central Indiana voting patterns.

From 2008 to 2016, GOP officials expanded early voting stations in Republican dominated Hamilton County, IndyStar’s analysis found, and decreased them in the state’s biggest Democratic hotbed, Marion County.

That made voting more convenient in GOP areas for people with transportation issues or busy schedules. And the results were immediate.

And correspondingly less convenient in Democratic Party areas.

Most telling, Hamilton County saw a 63 percent increase in absentee voting from 2008 to 2016, while Marion County saw a 26 percent decline. Absentee ballots are used at early voting stations.

Population growth and other factors may have played a role, but Hamilton County Clerk Kathy Richardson, a Republican, told IndyStar the rise in absentee voting in Hamilton County was largely a result of the addition of two early voting stations, which brought the total to three.

“It was a great concept to open those (voting stations),” Richardson said, adding that the turnout might have increased with the addition of even more voting machines.

Other Central Indiana Republican strongholds, including Boone, Johnson and Hendricks counties, also have added early voting sites — and enjoyed corresponding increases in absentee voter turnout.

But not Marion County, which tends to vote Democratic, and has a large African-American population.

During that same 2008-16 period, the number of early voting stations declined from three to one in Marion County, as Republican officials blocked expansion.

Blatant enough?

Democrats have tried four times to expand early voting in Marion County, but they’ve been blocked every time by one Republican representative on the elections board.

When asked about IndyStar’s analysis, legislative leaders including Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, did not return numerous requests for comment, or respond to questions submitted in writing. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Secretary of State Connie Lawson deferred to county officials for comment.

Julia Vaughn, executive director of Common Cause Indiana, which is party to the suit, said in-person early voting is important because people are increasingly voting early — especially the poor and people of color who cannot take time off of work.

Well but the poor and people of color vote for the wrong candidates. We can’t have that.

H/t Ari Berman

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