INDIANAPOLIS – In downtown Indianapolis, the election buzz is drawing big crowds, Hoosiers eager or just ready to cast their ballots before Nov. 8.
But with just 15 days until Election Day, Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge is also issuing a warning.
“There’s lots of issues that keep me up at night, but this is the number one issue,” she said. “There’s only so many hours in a day, and we may not have the results back on election night. But we’re going to do our best.”
The implications could be widespread, potentially halting the state from reporting overall results in key races election night for president, governor and U.S. Senate.
“That is definitely possible,” Eldridge said. “However we are hoping and confident that we will have enough bodies and volunteers that we will be able to hopefully have the results on election night.”
The first problem, Marion County election officials said, is volunteers.
Hundreds are still needed to help count absentee ballots, Russell Hollis said, the county’s deputy clerk.
A state law passed in 2013 requires Marion County to count absentee ballots at one central location, as opposed to being processed at hundreds of polling sites throughout the day.
A spokesperson for the Indiana Secretary of State’s office said while not required, dozens of other counties count their ballots at a centralized location as well.
“I have never ever had to recruit so many counters and couriers because the turnout has not been so great,” Eldridge said.
The change was made over concerns about voter fraud and keeping track of absentee ballots.
So as election officials praise the high early voter turnout, they’re also actively targeting voters to become volunteers.
“I volunteer on Election Day,” Ty Graves said, an early voter last week. “They can’t staff the polls. It’s an important part of the process, and if you have the ability to, you should come out today and vote so you can work the polls.”
Marion County election officials say they’ll accept new volunteers until the night before the election. People who are interested are asked to call (317) 327-5100.