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Indiana federal judge blocks rule that mail-in absentee ballots must be received by noon on Election Day
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Indiana federal judge blocks rule that mail-in absentee ballots must be received by noon on Election Day

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday to stop the enforcement of a requirement that mail-in absentee ballots be received by noon on Election Day to be considered valid.

The case was brought against Connie Lawson, Indiana’s Secretary of State, by Common Cause Indiana and Indiana State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It challenged the Indiana Code Sections 3-11.5-4-3 (2018) and 3-11.5-4-10 (2018).

The plaintiffs argued that the harm of this law is such that this suit is even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic because it puts all citizens at risk, “constituting an undue burden on the fundamental right to vote.” They also argued that the laws would cause irreparable harm:

Plaintiffs argue they will be irreparably harmed absent preliminary injunctive relief on two fronts: first, through the likely disenfranchisement of Indiana voters who are members of each organization, and second, through the diversion of their limited resources away from their usual voter-protection activities to focus instead on voter education and other efforts to mitigate the disenfranchising effect of the noon Election Day deadline. … Plaintiffs have satisfied their burden to show that, absent injunctive relief, they will suffer irreparable harm for which no adequate legal remedy exists.”

In balancing the harms between the parties as well as the interests of the public, Judge Sarah Evans Barker held that the injunction was necessary to prevent irreparable harm and ensure fairness in voting. She noted that this was one of many cases preceding the November election. Many other state requirements for voting have been challenged, including ones in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.