Tabulating local results of the June 2 primary election likely will take at least a few days, the Allen County elections director said Tuesday.
Beth Dlug said in an email that the vote count could last three to seven days depending on the volume of mailed-in absentee ballots. Absentee voting is urged in the wake of Gov. Eric Holcomb's stay-at-home guidelines aimed at stemming the spread of the potentially deadly coronavirus.
Dlug said social distancing practices will slow the process of tallying absentee ballots.
“Every step will take longer because each person looking at the card will have to look at it separately, rather than at the same time when they could be closer to each other” for a typical count of absentee ballots, she said.
“This also depends on how many people I can get to do the work. I am already looking at needing 60 teams of people to count ballots. I may need more,” she said.
The count will be conducted at Ivy Tech Community College's Fort Wayne campus, which offers more space than is available at Rousseau Centre, where election results are usually tabulated, Dlug said.
The Indiana Election Commission rescheduled Indiana's primary election from May 5 to June 2 and lifted restrictions on absentee voting because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The commission has advised county election boards to determine election results by 3 p.m. June 12.
Dlug said the Allen County Election Board has received 1,172 of the 5,345 absentee ballots mailed to voters so far. By comparison, the board received 2,804 absentee ballots back from the 3,105 it sent out to voters for the last presidential primary election, in 2016. In all, nearly 80,000 county residents voted in the 2016 primary.
Meantime, the Allen County Republican Party has canceled its election night watch party and following day's celebratory coney dog lunch.
GOP Chairman Steve Shine said Tuesday the party organization and its primary election candidates agreed to call off their traditional post-election gatherings at Republican headquarters in downtown Fort Wayne because of social distancing guidelines and the likelihood that election results will not be known for days after voting ends.
Even if the governor was to relax his statewide stay-at-home order ahead of the primary, “I just think it's probably better to practice safe distancing and not have a gathering of individuals for an event for which the outcome will not be known for several days after the election,” Shine said in a telephone interview.
He said the GOP will make a “significant upgrade” to its website at allencountygop.com so that election results, including partial tallies, can be posted online as they are released by the county election board.
A celebratory event will be scheduled after election results are known and state officials allow social gatherings, Shine said.
Absentee ballot applications are available from the Allen County Election Board at www.allencounty.us/election-board and by calling 260-449-7329. The deadline for applying for an absentee ballot is 11:59 p.m. May 21. Ballots must be returned by noon June 2 to be counted.
Absentee ballot applications can be sent by mail to Allen County Election Board, 1 E. Main St., Suite 172, Fort Wayne, IN 46802; by email to acebab@allencounty.US; and by fax to 260-449-7908.
Voter registration ends May 4.