ANGOLA — With a crush of mail-in ballots cast this election, local clerks of court are going to be stepping up efforts to get all of the ballots counted in a timely manner on Tuesday.
With people trying to avoid public places due to the COVID-19 pandemic, mail-in ballots have been cast by the thousands locally, easily surpassing the last presidential primary election in 2016, clerks say.
People have until noon Tuesday to get their ballots to their local clerk’s office in order to be counted.
Clerks say they are going to start counting mail-in ballots much earlier than usual because most of them have received more than 2,000 apiece back before Friday, with two days left to receive ballots.
“We will start counting absentee by mail ballots around 9 a.m. We normally don’t start until 2 p.m.,” said Shelley Mawhorter, Noble County clerk. “We are hoping like crazy to be complete on election day.”
DeKalb County Clerk Holly Albright said her office will start counting ballots after they pick up the mail at 10 a.m. from their post office box. Albright said she was shooting to have everything counted Tuesday.
“DeKalb County intends to have our results that night. We will begin opening and processing ballots around 10:30 a.m.,” she said.
Steuben County Clerk Tangi Manahan said her team will use the absentee balloting room in the courthouse as the place to stage counting during the day.
“I am having two teams of two, Republicans and Democrats, open and run our absentee ballots here at courthouse Election Day,” Manahan said. “Our goal is for them to be done by 6 p.m. on Election Day.”
There will be a similar process in LaGrange County, Clerk Bonnie Brown said.
“LaGrange will have a central count board to start running them through the machine at 8 a.m. Election Day,” she said.
Even though most people will return their ballots through the U.S. Postal Service — and clerks were encouraging people to do so sooner than later — voters do have other options to make sure their ballots are counted.
“We’re facing an unusual situation in this year’s primary, and given the volume of absentee ballot requests and returns, I want to make sure all Hoosiers are able to make their voice heard,” Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said in a news release.
If people have already mailed their ballot, they can check the status of their ballots at IndianaVoters.com, or call their county clerk’s office.
Because of the high number of absentee ballots in this year’s primary, the U.S. Postal Service is under a high level of strain, and voters may wish to consider alternate methods for returning their ballot, Lawson said.
Voters may deliver their ballot to the county clerk’s office by hand prior to Election Day. To find their county clerk’s contact information, Hoosiers should visit IndianaVoters.com.
Another way to be counted is to basically override your mail-in ballot. Voters may return their ballot to any polling place during early voting, which ends on Monday at noon, or on Election Day. To do this, a voter will need their unreturned absentee ballot and a photo identification card. They will fill out an ABS-5 form, void their absentee ballot, and proceed to vote at the polling place. This may be done at any precinct polling place, vote center, or the county clerk’s office until 6 p.m. on Election Day.
On Tuesday, polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. If voters have questions, they are invited to call the Hoosier Voter Hotline at 866-IN-1-VOTE, or visit IndianaVoters.com.