INDIANAPOLIS – After the Marion County Election Board met on Wednesday morning, the vote center plan was approved for the General Election.
“It’s imperative that all Marion County voters know how to safely participate in our democracy and in one of the most important elections to date,” said Myla Eldridge, Marion County Clerk. “Now that the vote center plan is adopted, we’re urging all Marion County voters to begin creating their voting plan to ensure they’re able to participate in the election before any critical deadlines pass.”
Only 22 voting locations were available to the June primary. Some voters stood in the heat for hours before casting their ballot. A shortage of poll workers was also a challenge.
“During the month of March, we had a lot of election workers who were signed up who called to cancel their registration to work on election day,” said Russell Hollis, Deputy Director of Marion County Clerk’s Office.
On Election Day, there will be 188 polling locations open. A normal amount would be closer to 250 locations.
“We did want to strategically reduce the number of locations. Also during the pandemic, it is tough to find enough election workers for 270 locations,” Hollis said.
The Marion County Clerk’s Office said they are doing well with the recruitment of poll workers and they are close to their goal already for November. Hollis said voters should expect smaller lines on Election Day.
Staff is already working to help process absentee ballot applications. Marion County usually gets 25,000 for a General Election and they have already received about 20,000.
1,800 mail-in ballots were rejected for the June primary because voters returned them too late. About one in five were either not returned, lost in the mail or something else.
“During the primary election, we received a total of roughly 123,000 absentee applications and the vast majority of those applications were received in a two to three week window prior to absentee application deadline,” Hollis said. “That was crushing to our staff.”
That is why the Marion County Clerk’s Office is urging everyone to apply early for an absentee ballot if they plan to vote by mail.
“Go ahead and do it now. We are prepared to process those applications. We do not want to put ourselves in a position to where we are processing 80,000 to 100,000 applications in mid to late October,” said Hollis.
There are 11 accepted excuses for voting by mail in Indiana. COVID-19 is not one of them.
“It is almost impossible for us to research and verify those reasons but we understand that when voters complete that application it is under the penalty of perjury,” Hollis said.
For the first time, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium will open as voting locations. They will not be “mega sites” but their size alone will help enforce social distancing.
Applications to vote by mail are now available and take less than 5 minutes to complete. Completed and signed absentee ballots can be returned via the U.S. Postal Service, or to ensure they’re received before the 11:59 p.m. deadline on Thursday, October 22, they can be returned in person at an Election Board office.
Marion County voters can vote early at the Clerk’s Office from October 6 through November 2.
Marion County residents can also vote early at a satellite voting location from October 24 through November 1. The last day to vote early is Monday, November 2 from 8AM through noon in the Clerk’s Office only.