INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana officials have started shipping protective supplies to county
election offices ahead of the start of in-person voting for the primary
election that was delayed until June 2 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Indiana residents have died from coronavirus illnesses, pushing the state’s
pandemic death toll from confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 to nearly
1,700, health officials said Friday.
Federal funding has
been used to buy supplies, including 200,000 face masks, 25,000 face
shields, 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and 4,000 gallons of disinfectant
cleaner for voting machines, Secretary of State Connie Lawson said Friday.
this week and will continue next week to Indiana’s 92 counties, which are
scheduled to begin early in-person voting on May 26 and have polling sites
open on June 2. That protective equipment is meant for election staffers and
won’t be provided to voters, Lawson said.
and state political leaders are encouraging mail-in voting as a way to
protect poll workers and voters from possible COVID-19 exposure since
deciding in late March to delay the primary by four weeks.
Voters face a
Thursday deadline for requesting a mail-in ballot. The state has established
an online ballot application available at Indianavoters.com, or application
forms can be requested from county election offices. Those ballots must be
received by county election offices by noon on June 2.
Lawson said that
through Thursday about 330,000 mail-in ballots had already been cast - more
than six times the total mail-in ballots submitted for the 2016 primary.
“Voting absentee by
mail is safe and secure,” Lawson said. “It’s important to remember this
isn’t a new process, it’s just an expansion of something that clerks do
every election cycle. As we weather the COVID-19 storm, its the smartest way
Gov. Eric Holcomb
agreed that voting by mail was the “smartest thing,” but said he planned to
vote in person either early or on primary day.
“As long as we have
the means to safely vote in person, I’m one of those people who subscribes
to ‘I’m going to vote in person,’” Holcomb said.
Indiana has no
challenged races for statewide elected offices in this year’s primary,
although multiple candidates are seeking nominations for the congressional
seats being given up by Democratic Rep. Pete Visclosky and Republican Rep.
Susan Brooks. Many state legislative seats and county offices are also on
the primary ballot.