Federal court nixes Indiana’s voter registration purge law

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal appeals court has sided with opponents of an Indiana law aimed at having elections officials immediately purge voter registrations for people who appear to have registered in another state.

The decision released Monday upholds an order issued by an Indianapolis-based judge that blocked the law enacted in 2020 from taking effect. The appeals court disparaged the law adopted by the Republican-dominated Legislature as an attempt to get around court rulings against a similar 2017 law.

The revised law dropped a much-criticized national voter database started by Kansas officials in favor of Indiana election officials collecting voter registration information from other states to compare with Indiana’s. The Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals called the change “different window dressing” that was “largely cosmetic.”

The court faulted Indiana’s revised law for still violating the National Voter Registration Act by allowing county elections officials to remove voters from registration rolls without receiving consent from that person or notifying the voter and letting two federal elections pass without the person voting.

The revised law “impermissibly allows Indiana to cancel a voter’s registration without either direct communication from the voter or compliance with the NVRA’s notice-and-waiting procedures,” the three-judge appeals panel said.

The NAACP’s Indiana State Conference and the League of Women Voters of Indiana, the groups that filed the lawsuit, hailed the decision.

“The laws Indiana passed in 2017 and 2020 risked improper purges of Indiana voters, particularly Black and brown voters,” Indiana NAACP President Barbara Bolling-Williams said. “This decision is a win for democracy and racial justice.”

The Indiana secretary of state’s office, which oversees Indiana’s voter registration process, said it was reviewing the ruling.

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