Republican lawmakers in Indiana have made it easier to vote early in Republican areas while making early voting harder in Democratic areas, according to an Indianapolis Star investigation published Thursday.
The paper looked at two counties—the GOP-dominated Hamilton County and the Democratic stronghold of Marion County, which includes the capital city of Indianapolis. From 2008 to 2016, officials made efforts to increase access to early voting to three stations in Hamilton County while decreasing it to just one downtown location in Marion County, the investigation revealed.
The results, the paper reports, were stunning and almost immediate:
Hamilton County [which tends to go Republican] saw a 63 percent increase in absentee voting from 2008 to 2016, while Marion County [which usually votes Democratic] saw a 26 percent decline. Absentee ballots are used at early voting stations.
According to the ACLU, limiting early voting is one of the ways states have tried to make it harder for some potential voters–including black voters, elderly voters, student voters, and voters with disabilities–to exercise their right to vote since 2008.
The chair of the Marion County Republican Party told the Star that the changes were due to funding issues.
Indianapolis Mayor Joseph Hogsett, a Democrat, told the paper that he supports efforts to prioritize money in next year’s budget to make voting more accessible. Democrats have tried multiple times to increase access to early voting, the paper reports, but those efforts keep getting shot down by a lone GOP official sitting on the elections board. (The vote has to be unanimous.)
Indiana is already rated poorly when it comes to voter participation. It is 46th in the country in voter registration, and 40th in the country for voter turnout, according to Common Cause Indiana.
In May, Common Cause Indiana and the NAACP sued the Marion County Elections Board over the policies, saying they gave other Indiana voters more access to the polls than Marion County voters.
Voter suppression is not limited to Indiana, of course. President Donald Trump has repeatedly spread false claims of widespread voter fraud. He also formed the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, whose vice-chair is Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State infamous for his repeated efforts to make it more difficult for voters to get registered and vote in his state. The commission requested voter information from all 50 states for reasons that still remain unclear. Over 3,000 voters in Colorado, in apparent fear of how their personal information would be used by the commission, canceled their voter registrations in response to the inquiry.