INDIANAPOLIS – It’s official — Indiana will put off its primary till June 2 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Indiana Election Commission unanimously approved the four-week postponement of the primary. Both parties endorsed the move announced last week by Governor Holcomb and Secretary of State Connie Lawson, but there was disagreement over whether Holcomb could do it on his own or if the commission needed to approve. That’s now a moot point.
Holcomb says holding the election as scheduled May 5 would run counter to the state’s push to eliminate mass gatherings to slow the spread of the virus, which has killed 14 Hoosiers so far. With military and overseas ballots about to go in the mail, the state had to make a decision now.
Those ballots will now go out four weeks later, and other deadlines will be pushed back accordingly, including the end of voter registration and the start of early voting.
The commission also approved a universal vote-by-mail option in hopes of reducing the number of people at polling places. Instead of having to meet specific criteria to vote absentee, you’ll be able to request an absentee ballot for any reason.
The commission will reconvene April 22 to address any problems which come up as counties prepare for the election.
Counties can start counting mail-in votes when the in-person polls open at six a-m on Election Day.
Along with the presidential primary, Indiana is choosing nominees in all nine congressional districts, nine state Senate races, 35 Indiana House races, and for various county offices.
The complete order detailing each change is available at https://www.in.gov/sos/elections/2404.htm.
The Commission’s order included the following changes, which will apply to the June 2nd Primary only:
- Moves all election dates by 28 days.
- Avoids reprinting ballots and other forms that have the May 5th, 2020 date.
- Allows everyone to cast an absentee ballot by mail without having a specific reason to do so.
- Grandfathers applications already received for an absentee ballot, which did not state an excuse permitting the person to vote by mail.
- Permits county election boards to conduct meetings electronically rather than in person.
- Encourages counties to appoint medical professionals to act as traveling absentee boards to help voters confined in medical facilities to cast a ballot.
- Permits family members and caregivers of a confined voter to personally deliver and return a ballot.
- Allows county election boards to consolidate voting locations and vote center sites and to take spacing measures to ensure the safety of voters.
- Loosens restrictions on students who wish to serve as poll workers or absentee board members.
- Allows county election boards to begin expeditiously counting ballots at 6 a.m. on Election Day.
- Advises county election boards that election results must be determined by 3 p.m. on June 12th.
Eligible Hoosiers can register to vote online, check their registration status, and request an absentee ballot by visiting www.IndianaVoters.com.
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