The Indiana Senate has voted to approve a bill that would allow mail-in or early votes cast by people who then die before Election Day to be counted in final election results.
Currently, if someone dies before election day, their early vote is discarded, but State Sen. Greg Walker (R), who sponsored the new bill, said it’s so hectic prior to an election, that election workers don’t have time to be checking death records and newspaper obituaries.
However, Republican lawmaker Rep. Milo Smith, has vowed to stop the bill in the House, according to the Northwest Indiana Times.
Despite the overwhelming support for Walker’s legislation in the Senate, where it passed 46-2, state Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, chairman of the House Elections Committee, said he plans to kill the measure in the coming weeks by denying it a committee hearing and vote.
But Smith was persuaded by Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill’s recent pronouncement that the legislation is unconstitutional.
Hill explained in Official Opinion 18-01 that a deceased voter no longer qualifies to vote, as he or she ceased being an Indiana resident at the moment of death.
“To our best earth-bound knowledge, a deceased person is not a ‘resident’ of any precinct, and therefore, is ineligible to vote according to the … Indiana Constitution,” Hill said.
Hill said an absentee ballot merely expresses the intent to vote for certain candidates. It does not become an actual vote until it is unsealed and deposited in the ballot box on Election Day.
“It stands to reason, then, that if the voter is deceased on the day that the provisional document is opened — deriving its legal significance as a vote — the intended ‘vote’ is clearly void, having been delivered by the lifeless hand of a non-citizen,” Hill said.