INDIANAPOLIS — When it comes to absentee voting, what seems like a good deed might actually be against the rules.
Last week, on an online neighborhood message board, an Indianapolis woman encouraged nearby residents to help their neighbors by offering to collect their absentee ballots so they could be hand-delivered together to the clerk’s office, rather than relying on the postal service to deliver the ballots by mail.
While it is a very kind and neighborly offer, rounding up your neighbors’ ballots and delivering them to the clerk or a polling place is not permitted.
According to the Marion County Clerk’s Office, state law says you can turn in an absentee ballot for another person only under certain circumstances. The following people may legally submit a ballot for another person:
- Family member (defined as an individual listed … as spouse, parent, father-in-law, mother-in-law, child, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece)
- Member of the individual’s household
- Attorney in fact (power of attorney)
- U.S. postal worker
- Bonded courier
Turning in someone else’s absentee ballot requires you to fill out the appropriate ABS-19 paperwork (for each ballot), showing that you fall into one of those categories. Without that paperwork, additional ballots should not be accepted and, instead, returned to the proper voter to submit the ballot themselves.
So if a neighbor offers to submit your ballot for you, simply say “No, thank you.” The state’s voting system is not designed that way, and you would risk your ballot not being counted. As you can imagine, someone showing up at a voting site with dozens or hundreds of completed ballots would and should raise red flags.