Hamilton amendment to expand voting access struck down: ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport’

Today, Jan. 25, State Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis) offered an amendment to House Bill 1264 that would extend the hours of operation for polling places from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The amendment was struck down with a vote of 30-67 along party lines even though the author of HB 1264, Rep. Timothy Wesco (R-Osceola), offered a bill to do the same thing in 2020. 

Rep. Hamilton released the following statement upon the defeat of her amendment: 

“According to the 2023 Indiana Civic Health Index, Indiana ranked 50th in the nation – dead last – for voter turnout in 2022, a mid-term election year. During presidential election years, we've dropped from 36th worst state for voter turnout in 2012 to 46th worst in 2020.”

“It is no coincidence that we have such low turnout when Indiana is one of only 2 states in the nation that close polling locations at the early hour of 6 pm. A 6 pm closing time stands as a major barrier for working Hoosiers to participate in elections– including working parents, people working multiple jobs, health care workers, public safety officers and any blue-collar shift workers. By extending polling hours by just 2 hours to 8 p.m., we are ensuring that our hard-working Hoosiers are not excluded from the electoral process. 

“Democracy is not a spectator sport. The United States was founded upon the principle of government being a reflection of the will of the people. How can this body, as elected leaders, confidently say that we are representing the voice of our communities when we let obstacles like this stand in the way of working Hoosiers getting to the polls? We should be making every effort to increase our voter turnout to strengthen our democracy, not upholding antiquated policies that restrict participation.” 

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