Marion Co. Clerk: 'thousands of ballots' could go uncounted

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Posted at 11:28 AM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 18:18:11-04

INDIANAPOLIS — In a letter to Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge said thousands of ballots could be left uncounted for the state’s primary election because of lack of action by the Indiana Election Commission.

Eldridge said the combination of Marion County trying to process applications for mail-in absentee ballots while also preparing for an in-person election has “strained our resources to the breaking point.”

Eldridge also said the county received more than 123,000 applications to vote by mail, more than 20 times the number of applications processed in the 2016 primary election. The Marion County Election Board processed 122,557 ballot applications, 99.5% of the total.

But for those votes to count, the Marion County Election Board must have received them by noon on June 2, the day of the election.

“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 – even while state and county officials have strongly encouraged voters to vote by mail,” Eldridge said.

The Indiana Election Commission could’ve extended the deadline in its April 17 meeting, and still could. Eldridge has called for that to happen.

“It still could extend the deadline now that it so clear that thousands of voters in Marion County and throughout the state likely will not have their ballots counted through no fault of their own after having been encouraged by election officials to vote by mail,” she said. “An extraordinary public health crisis caused the state to change the law to permit all voters to vote by mail; with the obvious and intended increase in mailed ballots, what is the compelling rationale for not extending the time for their receipt by county election boards? What a shame it will be for voters and candidates if thousands of votes sit in stacks uncounted under these circumstances.”

Marion County voters can hand deliver their absentee ballots at the three early voting locations and the 22 Election Day vote centers to make sure they get counted.

A spokesperson for Lawson’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.