Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita to testify before U.S. House Subcommittee on Elections

October 21, 2009

Secretary Rokita to outline concerns about H.R. 1719, the
Voter Registration Modernization Act of 2009

(Washington, D.C.) – Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita will testify before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Elections today at 1 p.m. in room 1310 of the Longworth House Office Building. As Indiana’s chief elections officer, Secretary Rokita will provide expert testimony on H.R. 1719, the Voter Registration Modernization Act of 2009.

“While I applaud Congress’ efforts to improve the election process for voters, there needs to be a balance between increased access and responsibility,” said Secretary Rokita. “H.R. 1719 certainly increases access to the voter registration process, but the legislation falls short of providing the security necessary to ensure that voters’ franchises are protected.  Because of this, H.R. 1719 as written, ultimately will do nothing more than decrease participation because not everyone will have confidence in or trust the process that now would threaten to disenfranchise them by letting their votes be diluted by those who will try to cheat through the use of this easily cheatable reform.”

H.R. 1719 outlines requirements for states to modernize their election registration processes. The bill requires states to provide for online voter registration. However, it does not require or permit states to use existing databases to verify information. Indiana’s General Assembly recently passed legislation – with unanimous support in both the House and Senate – that permits online voter registration, starting next year, for Hoosiers who have valid driver’s license numbers or state identification cards. Secretary Rokita will recommend to the committee that signatures from existing databases, such as Indiana’s BMV database, should be required for on-line voter registration.

Secretary Rokita will point out that H.R. 1719, as currently written, appears to prohibit states from inactivating and eventually removing inaccurate records, as is currently permitted under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. In Indiana, and many other states, there is a history of several jurisdictions with more voter registrations than voting age population. Secretary Rokita will recommend that state and local government election officials be permitted to conduct voter list maintenance activities.

Section 5 of H.R. 1719 eliminates the state’s ability to verify an applicant is qualified to register to vote. During the 2008 Primary Election, ACORN employees submitted several hundred fraudulent voter registration applications in Indiana counties. This resulted in county election administrators and several members of the Office of the Secretary of State taking time away from election preparation in order to flush these bogus registrations out.  Secretary Rokita will recommend removing the mandate in H.R. 1719 that eliminates the state’s ability to verify an applicant is qualified to register to vote.

The legislation requires election officials to allow an applicant to provide their email address and, if provided, requires election officials to send voting information to the voter via email only. This may violate equal protection laws. Secretary Rokita will recommend that this mandate be removed.

The bill has a provision that mandates a voter registration deadline of no later than 15 days prior to the election. Indiana has a 29 day deadline based on voter eligibility requirements in the state constitution. Reducing this to 15 days will impact the processes that currently work well in Indiana. Secretary Rokita will recommend that the 15 day mandate be removed.

The written testimony is available here.

Media Contact: Jim Gavin, 317.233.8655,