May 29, 2020

Indianapolis Official: Many Mail-In Ballots May Go Uncounted

An envelope used to mail an absentee ballot from the Marion County Election Board. - Doug Jaggers/WFYI

An envelope used to mail an absentee ballot from the Marion County Election Board.

Doug Jaggers/WFYI

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The top election official in Indianapolis is warning that thousands of mail-in ballots cast for Tuesday’s Indiana primary might go uncounted because they won’t be returned in time.

Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge sent a letter Thursday to state officials asking them to extend the deadline that requires mail-in ballots arrive at county election offices by noon Tuesday while polling sites remain open. Republican members of the State Election Commission last month blocked a similar request from Democratic members.

Eldridge, a Democrat, wrote that coronavirus restrictions limited the number of county election staffers who could process some 123,000 mail-in ballot requests, which was 20 times the number the county received for the 2016 primary. Many of those ballots weren’t mailed until late last week, leaving voters little time to receive the ballots and return them.

“In short, this could mean that thousands of ballots will remain uncounted despite the best efforts of both the Marion County Election Board and the voters themselves,” Eldridge wrote.

Read More: Hoosiers Must Return Absentee Ballots By Noon On Election Day

Some voters scattered around the state have complained about not receiving mail-in ballots that they requested as election officials encouraged voting by mail to lessen the risk of coronavirus exposure at in-person polling sites. State figures show nearly 550,000 voters across Indiana requested mail-in ballots — more than 10 times the number of those ballots cast during the 2016 primary.

A spokesman for Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a Republican, didn’t immediately reply to a request seeking comment on Eldridge’s letter.

State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, a candidate in the Republican 5th District congressional primary, sent a letter to Indianapolis officials Thursday saying she was worried about delays in voters receiving mail-in ballots. She urged action so that voters wouldn’t be disenfranchised.

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