State sending virus protective items to election offices

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana officials have started shipping protective supplies to county election offices ahead of the start of in-person voting for the primary election that was delayed until June 2 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Forty-two more Indiana residents have died from coronavirus illnesses, pushing the state’s pandemic death toll from confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 to nearly 1,700, health officials said Friday.

Federal funding has been used to buy supplies, including 200,000 face masks, 25,000 face shields, 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and 4,000 gallons of disinfectant cleaner for voting machines, Secretary of State Connie Lawson said Friday.

Shipments began this week and will continue next week to Indiana’s 92 counties, which are scheduled to begin early in-person voting on May 26 and have polling sites open on June 2. That protective equipment is meant for election staffers and won't be provided to voters, Lawson said.

Election officials and state political leaders are encouraging mail-in voting as a way to protect poll workers and voters from possible COVID-19 exposure since deciding in late March to delay the primary by four weeks.

Voters face a Thursday deadline for requesting a mail-in ballot. The state has established an online ballot application available at, or application forms can be requested from county election offices. Those ballots must be received by county election offices by noon on June 2.

Lawson said that through Thursday about 330,000 mail-in ballots had already been cast — more than six times the total mail-in ballots submitted for the 2016 primary.

“Voting absentee by mail is safe and secure,” Lawson said. “It’s important to remember this isn’t a new process, it’s just an expansion of something that clerks do every election cycle. As we weather the COVID-19 storm, its the smartest way to vote.”’

Gov. Eric Holcomb agreed that voting by mail was the “smartest thing,” but said he planned to vote in person either early or on primary day.

“As long as we have the means to safely vote in person, I’m one of those people who subscribes to ‘I’m going to vote in person,’” Holcomb said.

Indiana has no challenged races for statewide elected offices in this year’s primary, although multiple candidates are seeking nominations for the congressional seats being given up by Democratic Rep. Pete Visclosky and Republican Rep. Susan Brooks. Many state legislative seats and county offices are also on the primary ballot.

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