Primary Election Day sees historic changes amid pandemic

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Four weeks after its original date, Primary Election Day has arrived in Indiana, but it’s set to be one like many have never seen before.

Between the coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest, and a huge increase in mail-in voting, the day is sure to look different this year.

In-person turnout is expected to be lower with exponentially more people voting early, absentee, or by mail-in ballot. It comes after Indiana made mail-in voting available to all Hoosiers for the first time.

“We were expecting somewhere around 3,000 absentee ballots, and we’ve sent out over 38,000, and gotten over 33,000 back,” said Beth Dlug, Allen County Director of Elections. “It’s been an incredible response from our community in response to our request for them to vote by mail. We really got a great response for that, and we’re glad.”

For those still voting in person, several health and safety measures will be in place at the polling locations Tuesday to keep voters and poll workers safe. Each voter will be given a glove to wear while using the polling pads, workers will be wearing face masks and shields, and hand sanitizer will be stationed throughout the polling areas.

In Allen County, election officials have also drastically reduced the number of polling locations and moved them to much larger facilities to promote social distancing. This primary election, there are only 25 locations, compared to the usual 116.

Another factor this election day is the ongoing civil unrest across the country surrounding protests over police brutality. However, local election officials said it shouldn’t be an issue here.

“I believe that most of the protesting has been downtown, and it is targeted at government buildings, and we aren’t voting at any government buildings,” Dlug said. “I don’t anticipate that we’re going to have any issues with our polling locations. So I hope that we will not run into any kind of problems on election day.”

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Indiana Tuesday. Election officials suggest that you check your polling location before leaving the house because it has likely changed. They also remind you to bring a photo I-D to vote.

Tuesday marks the largest slate of presidential primaries in nearly three months. Seven states are heading to the polls, creating a second “Super Tuesday” of sorts.

The public will have to wait patiently for the results of the primary though, as counting the huge number of mail-in ballots will take longer than usual.

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