Indiana’s laws disenfranchise people who are convicted of an “infamous crime” – old-fashioned, but fairly common, language that in almost every state has been interpreted as synonymous with a felony. And even though the Indiana courts have also interpreted “infamous crime” as a felony conviction, elections officials in Indiana have notified voters that the state’s voting ban extends to individuals convicted of misdemeanors. David Snyder, an Indiana registered voter, was recently convicted of a misdemeanor and was then informed by elections officials that he had lost his right to vote during his incarceration. Mr. Snyder then filed suit in federal court, arguing that under both state and federal law, applying the “infamous crime” definition to a misdemeanor conviction was improper.
As the federal court considers Mr. Snyder’s claims, they have also sought input from the Indiana court on the legislative intent behind the state’s voting ban. The federal court has asked the Indiana Supreme Court to weigh in on the question of whether the definition of “infamous crime” in the state’s constitution was drafted to include misdemeanors. The Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments from both Mr. Snyder and Indiana election officials on April 21, 2011.