Porter County is
currently still planning to hold in-person voting for both early voting and
the primary election, but elections staff are preparing for the possibility
of holding a strictly absentee vote-by-mail election as well, according to
Porter County Clerk Jessica Bailey.
Bailey reported in
an Election Board meeting live-streamed online last week that
recommendations from the Indiana Election Commission are in limbo as the
State grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting State stay-at-home
order. The primary election was delayed until June 2 in response to the
virus, and the Indiana Election Commission subsequently issued a host of new
orders for how the primary should run based on recommendations from
Secretary of State Connie Lawson.
Commission’s complete, detailed order, issued at its March 25 meeting, is
available at SOS: Election Commission and members of the public are welcome
to comment on the changes by submitting comments to email@example.com
The big thing,
Bailey said, is that all dates relevant to the election will be moved
forward 28 days, which means early voting will start Tuesday, May 5, and the
last day to register to vote is now Monday, May 4. For candidates, the
deadline to file pre-primary campaign finance reports has been extended to
she’s closely following updates from the State and planning for both
in-person voting with social distancing or a switch to vote-by-mail. “We’re
working with the facilities and health departments to see what precautions
we can take. We’ve ordered gloves, cleaner, and sanitizer,” she said. Bailey
added that the County also has “please stand here” signs that can be placed
six feet apart to enforce social distance, and she’s considering hiring
“traffic control” people to maintain distance in lines.
been an uptick in the number of people requesting to vote by mail, as the
Statewide order allows anyone to cast an absentee ballot for the June 2
primary in response to the crisis. Elections Director Sundae Schoon reported
almost 2,000 absentee ballot requests have come in, the majority of which
came in the past two weeks. Schoon said the Elections & Registration Office
has sent out about 1,000 ballots so far. “We’re expecting more to keep
coming, so we’ve been ordering more supplies and keeping stocked up and
ready,” Schoon said.
The Elections &
Registration Office staff have been working on confirming polling locations
for the new primary date. Staff have also reduced their time in the office,
with half the staff working Monday through Wednesday morning, and the other
half coming in Wednesday afternoon through Friday as a social distancing
precaution, Bailey reported.
Other useful tools
the State has handed down: family members or caregivers are allowed to
hand-deliver absentee ballots on a confined voter’s behalf; health care
workers and 16- and 17-year-old students can be appointed to absentee voting
travel boards to help confined voters cast ballots; and ballots or forms
that have already been printed with the previous primary date will be
counted as valid to save on the costs of reprinting.
the Election & Registration Office’s new special purpose vehicle arrived
March 27. The Ford Starcraft 8+2 van has been retrofitted for use as a
mobile voting center and wrapped with Porter County Elections decals.
For the time being,
Bailey plans to use the vehicle as a mobile early voting site between 10
a.m. and 2 p.m. on the following Saturdays: May 16 at Kouts Library, May 23
at South Haven Library, and May 30 at a yet-to-be-determined location in
The mobile vote
center will also have Wednesday hours from 4 to 7 p.m. on May 13 at
Jamestown Apartments in Valparaiso and May 22 at Oak Tree Village in
Westchester Township. The Board approved these dates and times March 30 and
will vote in April to confirm the Burns Harbor location.
The Board’s next
meeting is scheduled for April 16 at 3 p.m. With the change in the statewide
election schedule, Bailey proposed, and the Board subsequently approved,
changing its calendar going forward.
The public test of
election equipment is scheduled for May 1 at 8 a.m. in the equipment room of
the County Administration Building. The Board will also meet May 21 and May
The Board will no
longer meet on May 15, the day they had previously marked to certify the
results of the primary. The Board will meet June 12 at noon to certify the
results of the June 2 primary, and this meeting will act as the Board’s
regular meeting for June.
Election Commission meets next April 22 at 10 a.m. ET. In Indianapolis.