Allen County residents who requested mail-in absentee ballots should begin receiving them in the next few days, after election board officials mailed out the first batch of 18,915 ballots Friday.
The number of ballots already requested dwarfs the number from the 2016 presidential election, said Beth Dlug, the county's director of elections.
“We mailed a total of 10,251 ballots during the entire 2016 presidential election, so this number for the first push in September is extraordinary,” Dlug said. “We expect to continue to break processing records for mailed absentee ballots up until the deadline.”
Friday's mailing represents ballots from requests received prior to the first date, Friday, that ballots could be sent out under election rules that specify ballots can begin to be sent 45 days before an election.
Election officials had wanted to start mailing Wednesday to avoid overburdening postal workers, but the early mailing was found not to be necessary.
Ballots now will be sent the same day applications are received and approved through the request deadline of noon Oct. 22.
Completed ballots must be in the election board office by noon on Election Day, Nov. 3.
Dlug urged voters to get completed ballots to the office as soon as possible. Ballots can be mailed to the office at 1 E. Main St., Suite 172, Fort Wayne IN 46802, or dropped off in person at the office's temporary location at Memorial Coliseum, 4000 Parnell Ave.
U.S. Postal Service officials are reporting a five- to seven-day delivery time for first-class mail, county election officials say.
Only the voter, a member of the voter's household, or the voter's attorney-in-fact can return a ballot in person. Voters can track the status of their returned ballots at the state's website, indianavoters.com.