Rokita Serves as Panelist at Election Reform Summit

Contact: AJ Freeney-Ruiz

Indianapolis, IN - Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita returned Monday from San Diego, California where he presented Indiana's successful provisional balloting process to representatives from all over the country at the second Helping America Vote Summit on Election Reform. The conference, presented by the National Association of Secretaries of State, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the National Association of Counties, examined the status of election reform in the United States and explored many issues states and localities confront as they continue their work to improve the election process.

Rokita presented Indiana's provisional ballot process, which is regarded as a national model. A provisional ballot allows a voter to cast a vote if the individual believes she is registered to vote in a precinct but her name does not appear on the precinct's poll list. A provisional ballot may also be used if the voter is challenged as not being qualified to vote in that particular precinct. The provisional ballot is kept separate from other ballots, and a bi-partisan election board decides whether the voter was qualified to vote in the precinct and whether the voter's ballot should be counted. Implemented in the wake of the 2000 election, the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) made provisional voting the law of the land.

Rokita offered at the summit an account of the 1888 election in Indiana after which evidence of "floaters" being hired to go from one precinct to another to cast votes for President was recorded. "In the absence of an effective voter registration system, these floaters may have provided the margin of victory in a presidential campaign," Rokita said. "No one knows for sure. However, if modern-day floaters appeared at several polling places on Election Day, the law requires these voters be given provisional ballots, whose validity can be determined later."

Rokita explained how the reforms put into place in Indiana following the 1888 election restored public confidence in Indiana's election process. He closed by referring to election reforms made after the 2000 election, "I contend that implementing reforms in the spirit of HAVA can and is beginning to have the same effect in restoring public confidence in the election process. And provisional voting supports our goal as election administrators - making sure every eligible vote counts."