Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

July 17, 2014

ANOTHER VIEW: Let Indiana's inmates vote

Lake County is trying to figure out how to allow incarcerated voters to cast ballots. If you think that’s a bad thing, think again.

It’s important to remember that county jails, in many cases, house people awaiting trial. They have the same right to vote as any other citizen, but prisoners haven’t asserted that right often.

Prompting the discussion is Albert Pabey, 61, of Hammond, who wanted an absentee ballot so he could vote in the spring primary. Pabey was at the Lake County Jail at the time.

Pabey had a valid voter registration in Lake County and wasn’t a convict, so he was eligible to vote. Prisoners serving time after a conviction are ineligible to vote.

Pat Gabrione, the top Republican on the election board staff, said he can’t remember a request like Pabey’s during his many years with the board. Pabey’s request came after a state deadline for mailing an absentee ballot to his cell, so Michelle Fajman, the county elections director, sent election workers to him.

A travel board delivers ballots to voters confined, due to illness or injury, those caring for individuals confined at private residences and unable to vote in person on Election Day, and to voters whose disabilities make the polling place inaccessible.

Pabey qualified as confined, Fajman said. That’s certainly true, considering his circumstances.

So now the question is what to do if a similar request arises in the future.

The answer should be to do just what Fajman ordered in Pabey’s case.

Send election board representatives to the jail to supervise voting and allow anyone who wants to vote, and qualifies, to do so.

— The Times, Munster

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