Student Voting Guide | Indiana

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of Indiana.

August 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of Indiana.  If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state where you attend school. If you want to cast an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, a report we issued this year documents a number of these changes and we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here.

While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.


Indiana’s registration deadline is 29 days before Election Day, and you can register in person, online, or through the mail.[1] Mail-in applications must be postmarked by the registration deadline[2] or you may also register in person at your county’s voter registration office through that date. Indiana also offers online voter registration to voters who have an Indiana driver’s license or State ID card; the deadline is 11.59pm on the 28th day before the election. You can also verify your registration online.

You may register to vote if you will be 18 by the next general, municipal, or special election[3] and you may vote in a primary election if you will be 18 by the next general election.[4]

If you have been convicted of a felony, it may impact your ability to vote.[5] If you think you might be affected, you should contact your local election officials.


At School. Students can establish residency in Indiana if they their present intention is to remain at their Indiana school address for the time being, and they intend to make it their principal home.[6] Provided you have the intention to establish your home in the state and intend to return there, you are constitutionally an Indiana resident.[7] The Secretary of State’s website sets out the residency rules in more detail.

At Home. Students who lived in Indiana but moved to another state for school, and who wish to establish or keep their Indiana voting residency (i.e., at their parents’ address), should have no problem doing so unless they have already registered to vote in another state.  Like most states, Indiana allows students to keep their voting residency even if they move out of the county or state to attend school.[8]

The only way you will lose this residency is if you “abandon” it by asserting residency in a new state.[9] While registering to vote in another state is not automatically considered an abandonment of residency in Indiana, some judges or officials might view it as such. If you have established residency in another state and are moving back to Indiana with the intent to reside here, you will have to follow the normal registration procedures to re-register at home.

Voting in Indiana is a declaration of residency, potentially making you subject to other laws that govern state residents. For example, registering to vote in Indiana makes you a resident for the purposes of the driver’s license law.[10] If you drive a car in the state and have moved here from another state, you have 60 days from when you register to vote to get an Indiana driver’s license.[11]

Challenges to Residency. Your voter registration can in rare circumstances be denied on the basis of your residency. If this occurs, county election officials have to notify you of that denial and the reason for their decision.[12] You may then re-register to vote, taking into account their reasons for the denial.

At the polls on Election Day, your eligibility can be challenged by official poll workers and by partisan challengers,[13] but you cannot be challenged solely on the basis that you are a student or that you live in campus housing.[14] If you are challenged, you will have to sign an affidavit affirming your eligibility to vote.[15] If your eligibility is challenged, you will have to vote by provisional ballot.[16] That ballot will be counted unless someone provides additional evidence that you are ineligible to the county election board.[17]

Any challenge made solely on the basis of your status as a student, or having a student housing address, is invalid.[18]


All voters who vote in person, either on Election Day or during early voting, will be asked to show a current, valid photo ID issued by the state of Indiana or the federal government.[19]  You may be asked to present proof of identification at multiple points — by a precinct election officer, poll clerk or precinct election board member — before being permitted to vote.[20] For ID to count, it must:

  1. Have your name as it is in the registration records;
  2. Have a photo of you;
  3. Have an expiration date, which must be current or have expired after the date of the most recent general election; and
  4. Be issued by the U.S. government or the state of Indiana.[21]

Student IDs from public universities will only count if they meet all four requirements; many Indiana schools IDs do not, so check your ID carefully.[22] Student IDs from private universities will not count, because they are not issued by the state. 

Absentee voters who meet the requirements to vote by mail (see section on Absentee Voting, below) do NOT have to show ID, but anyone who casts an absentee ballot in person (i.e. early voting) must meet the ID requirements described above.[23]

If you do not have a valid photo ID, you will have to cast a provisional ballot,[24] which will only be counted if you provide ID to county officials in person within 10 days,[25] or if you appear before county officials and swear that you cannot get ID without paying a fee and are indigent or that you have a religious objection to being photographed.[26]

You can get a non-driver’s ID for free at the Indiana BMV, but you will have to show proof of your citizenship and your address to get ID, which will usually involve bringing a passport or a birth certificate with you.[27]

Absentee Voting

In order to vote absentee by mail in Indiana, you have to have a “specific, reasonable expectation” that you will be unable to vote in person on Election Day.[28] You must apply for a blank absentee ballot, and if you did not apply in person, your application must be received at least 8 days before Election Day.[29] In most cases, you may apply in person for an absentee ballot at the clerk’s office until noon on the day before Election Day.[30] Blank application forms for posting by mail are available on the Secretary of State’s webpage.

Your completed absentee ballot must be received by the county election board before polls close on Election Day, so if you are mailing your ballot, be sure to mail it early enough.[31] You may turn in your absentee ballot either by mail, by delivering it in person to the county election board yourself, or having a family member deliver it in person to the county election board.[32] If a family member delivers your ballot, they will have to complete a written sworn statement attesting to their relationship to you and when you gave them the ballot.[33] If you are a first-time voter who registered by mail and election officials could not verify your identifying numbers (driver’s license or ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number), you will have to submit proof of your address with your ballot.[34]

Early Voting

As a convenience to voters, Indiana has early voting (also referred to as in-person absentee voting, because you will apply for an absentee ballot at the early voting location prior to receiving a ballot) which begins 28 days before an election and ends at noon on the day before Election Day.[35] At early voting sites, you can vote any precinct’s ballot for that county. Each county’s early voting times vary, so you should check with your county elections office for the exact dates, times, and locations for early voting.

Last Updated August 15, 2014

[1] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-7-13-11.

[2] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-7-33-3.

[3] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-7-13-1(1).

[4] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-7-13-2.

[5] Ind. Code Ann.§ 3-7-13-6

[6] Ind. Code Ann.  § 3-5-2-42.5.

[7] Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 330 (1972); Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 328 (2d Cir. 1986).

[8] College Students, Ind. Sec’y of State, (last visited Jul. 18, 2014).

[9] Ind. Code Ann. §§ 3-5-5-4, 3-5-5-8

[10] Ind. Code Ann. § 9-13-2-78(3)

[11] Ind. Code Ann. § 9-24-1-7(7)..

[12] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-7-33-5(b), (c)(4).

[13] Ind. Code Ann. §§ 3-11-8-20, 3-11-8-27.

[14] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-5-4.5-2; see generally College Students, Ind. Sec’y of State, (last visited August 14, 2014).

[15] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-8-23.

[16] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-8-23.5.

[17] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11.7-5-1.5(f).

[18] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-5-4.5-2

[19] Ind. Code Ann. §§ 3-11-8-25.1.

[20] Ind. Code Ann. §§ 3-11-8-25.1

[21] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-5-2-40.5.  IDs issued by the U.S. Department of Defense, a branch of the armed services, the Merchant Marine, or the Indiana National Guard do not need to have an expiration date in order to be valid ID for voting.

[22] Photo ID Law, Ind. Sec’y of State, (last visited August 14, 2014).

[23] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-10-1.2.

[24] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-8-25.1(b)(2).

[25] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11.7-5-2.5(b).

[26] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11.7-5-2.5(c).

[27] Obtaining a Photo ID, Ind. Sec’y of State, (last visited on Jul. 18, 2014). You can see the required documents at the BMV’s website: (last visited on August 14, 2014).

[28] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-10-24.

[29] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-4-3.

[30] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-4-3.

[31] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-10-3.

[32] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-10-1(a)(6).

[33] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-10-24(d).

[34] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-7-33-4.5; see 42 U.S.C. § 15483(b)(2)(a)(ii) (requirement to provide photo ID or proof of address if a first time voter registered by mail).

[35] Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-10-26.