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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Voting by mail: the preferred (and safe) way to vote in the primary

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Voters in Marion County are encouraged to vote by mail for the primary election June 2 because of the COVID-19 health crisis.

State officials delayed the primary — which was supposed to happen May 5 — and county officials used the extra time to implement a wide-ranging vote-by-mail system, which has traditionally been reserved for voters who couldn’t make it to a polling place.

Those restrictions have been relaxed so that voters don’t need a reason to vote absentee. The Marion County Election Board has mailed absentee applications to registered voters.

Voting by mail

Health officials have warned that large gatherings on Election Day could further the spread of COVID-19, so voting by mail is preferred.

Registered voters should have already received an application to request a ballot. If you haven’t received an application, you can find it online, or you can contact the county election board at 317-327-5100 or elections@indy.gov.

The election board must receive the application in the mail by 11:59 p.m. May 21. You can also hand deliver the application to the Election Service Center, 3737 E. Washington St., or scan and email it to elections@indy.gov.

Voters with internet access can also apply for an absentee ballot online through the state’s website. Click “Apply Online/Get Forms,” “Visit My Voter Portal” and then fill in your information. From there, click “Absentee Voting” on the left and then “Vote By Mail” to complete the application.

You can also check your voting status at the same website.

This is just the application to get an absentee ballot. The ballot will still be sent through the mail.

Once you get your ballot, complete it, put it in the return envelope provided, and mail it back. Ballots can also be hand delivered to the Election Service Center.

Ballots must be returned by noon June 2 to be counted.

Is voting by mail safe?

The fraud rate when voting by mail is essentially zero. Just as officials can’t guarantee beyond a shadow of a doubt that in-person voting is safe from tampering, no one can truly say voting by mail is 100% fraud-proof.

But the fact remains voting by mail is safe and secure.

Mail-in voting is already the primary method of voting in five states, and 28 other states give voters the right to vote by mail without needing a reason.

In 2018, according to the Election Administration and Voting Survey, more than a quarter of voters across the country cast their ballots by mail, totaling more than 31 million people.

In Marion County, ballots are stored in a vault at the Election Service Center and then opened on Election Day and fed through a voting machine to count the votes.

This is a bipartisan process, according to Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge, with a Democrat and Republican opening the sealed envelopes. Only certain people are allowed access to the vault.

There’s also very little room for tampering or other fraud.

“This is like the brain center of the election,” Eldridge said. “This is where everybody reports on Election Day. There’s so many people inside this building, it would be so difficult.”

And, Eldridge said, if you have doubts, call the election board and set up a time to go to the center. It’s still open to the public, though some restrictions are in place to maintain social distancing.

You can still vote in person

Though it’s not recommended, you can still vote in person.

Marion County will have three early voting sites:

• Beech Grove High School, 5330 Hornet Ave. — 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 26-29 and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. May 30-31

• Broad Ripple High School, 1115 Broad Ripple Ave. — 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 26-29 and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. May 30-31

• Indianapolis City-County Building, 200 E. Washington St. — 8 a.m.-5 p.m. May 26-29, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. May 30-31 and 8 a.m.-noon June 1

There will be 22 locations for in-person voting on Election Day. Voting lasts from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit here for a list and map of voting locations.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

Application to vote by mail.

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