Senate Committee Approves Watered-Down BMV Voter Registration Bill

Mar 27, 2017

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles would be required to offer Hoosiers the chance to register to vote more often under legislation approved by a Senate committee.

But the bill does dramatically less than its original version.

Under current law, the BMV is required to offer voter registration to anyone seeking a driver’s license, permit or ID card. Rep. Clyde Kersey’s (D-Terre Haute) bill would require the BMV to offer voter registration during all other customer interactions.

But Kersey’s original proposal would have implemented automatic voter registration at the BMV. That language was stripped out in the House Elections Committee. Chair Milo Smith (R-Columbus) says there were issues with the idea, including that, in any given trip to the BMV, people might not have all the documents needed to register.

“I have an open mind and I want everyone to be able to register to vote and to cast their vote, regardless of who they vote for. But at the same time, I need to protect the integrity of every person’s vote,” Smith says.

Kersey says he’s disappointed his proposal couldn’t go forward.

“I plan to carry that same bill next year and hopefully we can move it forward. Because I think that’s the answer to the problem of getting people registered,” Kersey says.

A Senate committee unanimously approved Kersey’s watered-down legislation.