Indiana primary will have in-person voting but officials encourage mail-in ballots

Indiana voters will still have an opportunity to cast a ballot in-person for the June 2 primary election, state officials announced Thursday.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson made the decision last month to delay the primary election from May 5 to June 2 and expand the ability to cast a ballot by mail to all registered voters in an attempt to address public health concerns around voting.

Lawson said during Thursday’s press briefing that in-person early voting will be limited, but it will still be offered, and in-person voting on June 2 will be allowed.

“I will encourage voters to vote absentee, and I’ve been doing that for weeks now,” Lawson said. “But the fact of the matter is there are some people that feel very, very strongly about voting in person.”

As of Thursday morning, more than 70,400 registered voters had requested an absentee ballot. The city of Indianapolis is mailing every registered voter in Marion County an application to request an absentee ballot.

Lawson said she expects to have an online process for requesting absentee ballots up and running in about a week. Currently, voters—other than those in Marion County—have to call their county election office to request it or print the form from the website and mail it in.

Lawson said the state can’t afford to mail every registered voter an application for an absentee ballot.

“We thought we could spend our money more wisely in other ways,” Lawson said.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is May 21.

In-person early voting will be limited to seven days—from May 26 to June 1—as opposed to 28 days before the election.

Lawson said the state is working to acquire personal protective equipment for all 92 counties and purchasing hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to protect the health and safety of poll workers. To fund the expense, Lawson said the state has requested $7.9 million from the $400 million appropriated in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act for election funding.

“We plan to address the potential coronavirus threats by minimizing direct contact among Hoosier voters and election staff, educating poll workers on sanitation best practices and ensuring polling locations are supplied with the necessary personal protective equipment,” Lawson said.

The Indiana Election Commission is scheduled to meet at 12 p.m. Friday to discuss Lawson’s recommendations.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody issued a statement supporting Lawson on Thursday.

“From day one, the goal of the Indiana Democratic Party in these negotiations was to ensure Hoosiers can exercise their right to vote safely and securely, while at the same time protecting those who administer elections and work the polls,” Zody said in a statement. “This is the next step in what is a multi-step process, and we are glad agreement has been reached to provide election administrators with more clarity for the June 2 primary, as well as more flexibility and critical public health guidance.”

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