Rep. Harris statement on issues surrounding voter suppression

INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Earl Harris Jr. (D-East Chicago) today released the following statement regarding the state of voter suppression in Indiana:

“It’s heartening to see so many of my constituents turning out for this election, but state leadership could be doing so much more to protect their rights, especially when it comes to the Black and brown community,” Harris said. “We need to address the fact that for years, leadership has gotten away with less detectable forms of voter suppression that present unique problems for Hoosiers.

“Though we are not subjecting the Black and brown community to ‘literacy tests’ or inciting violence at the polls anymore, there are still micro aggressions today that suppress their voices when they go out to vote. For one thing, Indiana has limited polling hours and locations so that those in the working class, which in Lake County consists of a large population of Black and brown people, have to wait in incredibly long lines or take off work.

“In 2017, the General Assembly passed Senate Enrolled Act 220, which put a limit on the amount of precincts in Lake County based on a 600 voter-minimum. Additionally, there are only 11 early voting sites to serve a population of almost 500,000 people. It should also be noted that a majority of Indiana’s polls close at 6 p.m. – the earliest in the nation.

“When the state refused to expand mail-in voting and the legislature failed to pass a bill on same-day voter registration last year, it further demonstrates that we’re moving in the wrong direction. We should be working toward increasing voter access and these actions are accomplishing the exact opposite. Indiana is ranked in the bottom 10 states for ease of voting and in the bottom 15 for voter turnout, and it’s no surprise as to why.”

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