Mail-in ballot rule relaxed; new election date confirmed

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

As of now, local elections will have the same look, but the timing will be different.

Last week, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that the primary election will be held Tuesday, June 2, which is 28 days later than usual.

“The right of citizens to elect their leaders in a free and open election is one of the cornerstones of America,” he said at a press conference. “In order to balance that right with the safety of county employees, poll workers and voters, delaying Indiana’s primary election is the right move as we continue to do all we can to protect Hoosiers’ health.”

The Indiana Election Commission confirmed that change Wednesday, and voted to move all deadline dates involving the election back 28 days.

“We’re still on track to vote,” said Dubois County Clerk Amy Kippenbrock. “Right now, we are planning on still having early voting and a Primary Election Day, just the same as it’s always been. We’re pushing everything back 28 days.”

But, like everything else lately, that could change.

“I’m very open to the fact that it could change,” she said. “It just depends on how things progress and what happens with our public health safety emergency. I wouldn’t be surprised if this changed. But at this point, they’re staying the course.”

She has contacted all polling places that were scheduled, and the facilities will still be used, just on the different dates.

The election commission also decided to allow any voter to cast an absentee ballot by mail without having a specific reason to do so; normally, a voter must have a reason why he or she can’t go to a polling place to vote.

“We have supplies for mail-in ballots,” Kippenbrock said. “So if you want to vote by mail, you need to fill out an application, and we’ll get them their ballot. We are able to do that process today.”

The deadline for the clerk’s office to receive an application has also been moved by 28 days, to May 21.

“They can get online and fill out the application, or they can call us to get the application,” Kippenbrock said. “That tells us what ballot style to mail to you.”

In the primary election, each person chooses a party ballot and votes for those candidates. In the general election, all parties are together on one ballot.

Traditionally, there’s not a big demand for mail-in ballots in Dubois County. “We have a big percentage that vote early in person,” Kippenbrock said. “But from a public health perspective, if people want to vote by mail, that is a good option.”

Other actions the commission took Wednesday are permitting family members and caregivers of a confined voter to personally deliver and return a ballot, loosening restrictions on students who wish to serve as poll workers or absentee board members, and encouraging counties to appoint medical professionals to act as traveling absentee boards to help voters confined in medical facilities cast a ballot.

The commission is also allowing county election boards to begin expeditiously counting ballots at 6 a.m. on Election Day, to consolidate voting locations and vote center sites, to take spacing measures to ensure the safety of voters, and to conduct meetings electronically rather than in person.

“As we take precautions to protect Hoosiers from the threat of COVID-19, it is vitally important to protect citizens’ right to vote,” Secretary of State Connie Lawson said Wednesday. “With these changes, I am confident our primary will move forward with minimal disruption.”

Those wanting an application to receive an absentee ballot by mail can contact the county clerk’s office at 812-481-7035, and one will be mailed to you. Applications can also be found on the Indiana Secretary of State’s website here.




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