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County absentee voting expected to top ’08 totals

During the last presidential election, a record number of Americans voted by absentee ballot, and the trend locally is on pace to exceed totals from four years ago.

In Allen County’s 2008 election, 5,219 people voted by absentee ballots.

As of Monday afternoon, the Election Board office had mailed out absentee ballots to 4,862 voters, with 21 days left to request an absentee ballot, said director of elections Beth Dlug,

A record 24 percent of the more than 2.8 million Hoosiers who voted in the 2008 general election did so by absentee ballot, eclipsing the previous absentee ballot record set in 2004, when 10 percent of Indiana voters cast absentee ballots.

To vote absentee, residents must meet one of several qualifications. A list of the qualifications and applications for an absentee ballot may be downloaded from the voter registration website, www.allencounty.us/voter-registration. Voters may also call the Election Board office at 449-7329. Absentee ballot applications must be received by the Election Board office no later than 11:59 p.m. Oct. 29. Completed ballots must be returned to the Election Board office no later than noon Nov. 6.

Once received by the Election Board office, each absentee ballot is processed with a bar code scan but not opened. The ballots are then locked in a storage room until election night, when they will be counted, Dlug said.

“There are two keys to that storage room,” Dlug said.

The key holders are two Election Board representatives – one Democrat and one Republican.

On Election Day, couriers are sent to the precincts to verify information and confirm voter records. Once the polls have closed and the couriers have assured the Election Board there are no duplicate votes, the containers of absentee ballots are taken from the vault to be counted, Dlug said.

So that members of the Election Canvass Board do not see confidential information about voters, the envelopes are separated from the ballots, and the ballots are pulled from a security jacket When all identifying information is removed, members run the ballots through a scanner to count the votes, Dlug said.

The entire process is open to the public, Dlug said.

The Canvass Board always has an equal number of members from each party.

“Last time we had four Democrats and four Republicans,” Dlug said, “but this year there will be six of each.”

The Election Board office is at 1 W. Superior St. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, through Nov. 2; from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 27 and Nov. 3; and from 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 5. For more information, call Dlug at 449-7329 or go to www.allencountyvoters.

vsade@jg.net

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