Counties anticipate record absentee voters ahead of primary election

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – We are three weeks away from the Indiana primary elections and voting will look far different this year. The Indiana Election Commission says it has seen a big jump in the number of absentee ballot applications after making it an option for all voters for the first time.  

Voters have their eyes set on June 2, the new primary election day for Indiana.

“It’s been interesting,” said Russell Hollis, the Deputy Director for the Marion County Clerk’s Office.

Kathy Williams, the Clerk for Hamilton County added, “This is my 44th year to work in the county and this is the craziest thing I have ever seen.”

More voters are taking advantage of the option to send in their ballot and Hollis believes that’s the safest way. In April, the City-County Council voted in favor of mailing absentee applications to all registered voters. Paid postage will be provided.

“We are anticipating a record number of people voting absentee by mail for this election cycle,” said Hollis.

If you do plan to head to the polls, Hollis expects there will be long wait times, with only 22 vote centers open in Marion County. The election board is working now to come up with a safety plan and guidelines for the people who do decide to vote in person.

“We are still working through some of our steps to make sure people are safe, but we will be enforcing social distancing at our polls and locations on election day,” Hollis added.

Safety is also a top priority for Hamilton County Clerk Kathy Williams.

“Four years ago, we had 3,500 absentee ballots total and as of yesterday (Monday), we have 10,663 back. So, we’re about three times what we had four years ago in absentee voting,” said Williams.

Her office has reorganized their election day plans to follow safety standards and election laws.

“We purchased tape to be able to mark off the floors, the Secretary of State’s office is sending us supplies for masks and gloves and cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer,” Williams added.

Unlike other counties, Hamilton County is taking a different approach by leaving all voting centers open.

Williams hopes this eliminates long lines and large groups.

“A lot of the poll workers are in the category that are more at risk, but we have several of them that chose to work because they enjoy doing it and they’re coming back with us, so we want to protect everyone,” said Williams.

A priority for all counties as we approach an election day, until any other.

“If you’re a voter coming to the polls, I would ask that you bring a mask,” Williams suggested.

Hollis added, “Voting by mail is the safest and the fastest for voters to vote in this primary election.”

Marion County residents who have not received an absentee application should visit vote.indy.gov to complete an application to request a ballot by May 21, 2020. According to the Marion County Clerk’s Office, once the application is completed, there are four steps to complete and return the ballot:

  • Complete the ballot entirely
  • Place the ballot back in the return envelope
  • Sign the return envelope – ballots must be signed to be counted
  • Place the signed envelope in the mail

In Hamilton County, bright yellow postcards will be mailed out this week to notify voters of their new locations. Go to indianavoters.com, hamiltoncounty.in.gov or call the Election Office at (317) 776-8476 if you need assistance.

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