A decision to have a primary by mail could happen when the Indiana Election Commission meets April 22 to discuss the possibility, according to Kosciusko County election board members.
Out of concern for the coronavirus outbreak, the state last week moved the May 5 primary to June 2, and election deadlines in the lead-up to the primary were pushed back 28 days.
But there is now a growing concern over whether to hold an in-person election.
Here are comments from county election board members and party leaders on the idea of a mail-in election:
Bill Morton, Democrat Party representative on the election board: “If I were a betting man, I would assume the election commission may decide to cancel the in-person election,” he said. “But the devil’s in the details. Nobody knows how that would work.”
Randy Girod, Republican Party representative on the election board: “I think it would probably be prudent, given what’s going on in this world, for many reasons. For instance, finding poll workers – I don’t want to endanger people – most of these people are in their 60s, 70s and 80s.”
Ann Torpy, the county clerk who is also on the election board, declined to offer an opinion on the issue. “I will do whatever is needed,” she said.
Mike Ragan, GOP county chair, said he’s not a big fan of a mail-in election because of concerns for potential corruption. “I would not like that at all … all-mail is better than nothing at all, but I prefer elections as usual.”
Brian Smith, the county Democrat chair, said he supports a temporary change. “I completely support the idea. We don’t know how much longer this is going to last and a complete mail-in primary would prevent us from congregating in big crowds,” he said.
Some county election boards have been meeting and offering recommendations on the idea. Kosciusko County’s election board is not expected to meet until after the state meeting on April 22.
Torpy said Friday she believes a mail-in election would cost the county about $24,000 in postage and other paperwork to send out applications and then distribute ballots.
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VOTE BY MAIL INSTRUCTIONS – Many are advocating that voters use the mail-in option, and on Friday, Torpy issued advice on how to go about that.
The state has already made it easier to vote by mail, after relaxing reason for voting by mail. Voters don’t need to cite a reason to vote by mail, as they have in the past. If a state absentee vote-by-mail application still features a list of reasons to choose from, voters do not have to choose one.
Each voter who wishes to vote by mail must complete an application and return the application to the clerk’s office. The applications can be found on the Clerk’s website or they can call the office at (574)-372-2332. The public can also learn more at www.indianavoters.com or www.IN.gov/sos/elections.
While voters will wait to see what the state decides, here are the current plans for those wanting mail-in ballots: Ballots will be mailed beginning April 14. All completed applications need to be returned to the clerk no later than May 21. They can be mailed, emailed ([email protected]) or faxed (574)-372-2338, according to a statement issued by Torpy.
Anyone with questions is asked to call the clerk’s office.
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BLAMING CHINA – Indiana Third District Congressman Jim Banks, joined Democrat Representative Seth Moulton, of Massachusets, in introducing a resolution Tuesday that would condemn China for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislation accuses the Chinese government of having made multiple “serious mistakes,” including the deliberate perpetuation of misinformation to downplay virus risks and the censorship of doctors and journalists in the nascent stages of the outbreak.
Banks, in a statement, said, “As the Chinese Communist Party pushes propaganda and lies to try and blame the United States for coronavirus, we need to make the case to the world that China is ultimately responsible for this outbreak.”
Moulton, though, faced a backlash and withdrew his support of the resolution on Thursday. While it was important to recognize and condemn the authoritarian tactics, Moulton said, the resolution was being “used to create division, as the president’s xenophobia stokes racism across the country.”
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NICE IDEA – Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder posted a pleasant idea on Facebook this week. While the federal stimulus checks will soon be sent out to many Americans who need them, Yoder noted that the checks might not be as important to some families who are better off financially. “If you find yourself in that position, I suggest making a contribution to one of our local not for profits that will be working with members of the community that will be needed additional assistance,” Yoder wrote.
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Dan Spalding is the editor at InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.