Indiana holds delayed primary with widespread mail balloting

Indiana’s first election to feature widespread mail-in balloting concludes Tuesday with an in-person primary that was delayed for four weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted: Jun 2, 2020 1:42 PM
Updated: Jun 2, 2020 3:36 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s first election to feature widespread mail-in balloting concludes Tuesday with an in-person primary that was delayed for four weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly 550,000 voters requested mail-in ballots — more than 10 times the number cast during the 2016 primary — after coronavirus concerns prompted officials to delay the primary originally slated for May 5.

VOTING ISSUES

Many counties have drastically slashed the number of polling sites that will be open Tuesday, prompting worries about confusion and long voter lines. Indianapolis will have 22 voting locations rather than its normal 270. St. Joseph County will have 12 sites open in and around South Bend; it had planned to have 120 before the pandemic struck.

Some county election administrators and candidates have said they are worried that thousands of mail-in ballots could go uncounted if they arrive at election offices after the noon Tuesday deadline. The huge increase in mail-in ballots also has election officials warning it could take more than one day to tally them all, possibly delaying determination of some primary winners.

Lake County Democratic Party chairman James Wieser said his county received more than 25,000 absentee ballots and that officials began counting them at 8 a.m. Tuesday. He was unsure when the count would be completed.

“I don’t expect we’ll be able to get through all of these today … I’m not ruling it out, but it doesn’t seem likely,” Wieser said Tuesday morning.

He said Lake County polling sites had seen only minor problems Tuesday, with two voting sites experiencing voting machine glitches that caused those sites to open less than an hour late.

As of noon, the only reported problem was long lines at some Marion County polling sites, Indiana Secretary of State’s office spokesman Ian Hauer said.

“We have half the day left but it’s been pretty typical, which is kind of surprising considering the atypical election that it’s been,” Hauer said.

Hauer said he fielded one call Tuesday from a citizen asking whether voters need to wear a face mask inside polling sites. While the secretary of state’s office is asking voters to wear face masks, he said the office isn’t requiring them to do so.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

In 2016, the Republican and Democratic presidential races weren’t settled ahead of Indiana’s primary. That drama — and voter draw — is missing this year.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is the last active candidate in the Democratic primary, although he hasn’t yet won enough delegates to secure the bid. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is among nine candidates who are also listed on the party ballot.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and Democratic business executive Woody Myers are unopposed for their party’s gubernatorial nominations for the November election.

5TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

The 15-candidate scrum for the Republican nomination to replace GOP Rep. Susan Brooks largely turned into a contest of Trump loyalty. The district has been a Republican bastion for decades, but Democrats are targeting it for the fall election as its suburban Indianapolis areas have become less solidly GOP.

Victoria Spartz has flooded TV screens and mailboxes with ads fueled largely by $900,000 she loaned to her campaign. That enabled Spartz to build name recognition as a first-time candidate after two years in the state Senate where she was picked by party activists to complete a retired senator’s term.

Spartz has also benefited from more than $400,000 in campaign spending by the Washington-based anti-tax Club for Growth, which paid for TV ads highlighting past criticisms of Trump by fellow candidates Carl Brizzi, a former Marion County prosecutor, and business owner Beth Henderson.

State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, pediatric physician Chuck Dietzen and evangelical pastor Micah Beckwith are among the other candidates looking to emerge from the crowded GOP field.

Indiana Democrats, meanwhile, have largely backed former state Rep. Christina Hale, who was the 2016 Democratic lieutenant governor nominee, and she has already raised more than $1 million. Hale is being challenged by Dee Thornton, the party’s 2018 candidate for the seat, who has been endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus PAC.

1st CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Rep. Pete Visclosky’s retirement after 36 years in Congress prompted several prominent Democrats to square off for the chance to replace him in the party’s northwestern Indiana stronghold.

Five-term Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott likely started with an advantage from his high-profile position, but Visclosky endorsed Frank Mrvan, a Lake County township trustee whose father is a longtime state senator.

Lake County makes up about two-thirds of the district’s ballots, and those will likely also be split among state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon of Munster, Gary attorney Sabrina Haake and Melissa Borom of Gary, a former Visclosky aide who has been endorsed by several members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Valparaiso attorney Jim Harper, who was the 2018 Democratic candidate for secretary of state, is the best-known candidate from outside Lake County.

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 281303

Reported Deaths: 8744
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1406235180
DuPage16955551
Lake16545486
Will13612374
Kane12790325
St. Clair6386187
Winnebago5531149
Madison5463131
Champaign447220
McHenry4463118
Peoria331449
McLean320020
Rock Island286974
Kankakee267677
Sangamon229044
Unassigned2238236
Kendall194725
Tazewell165721
LaSalle164056
DeKalb148438
Macon143642
Coles139630
Williamson135139
Jackson124824
Clinton108820
Boone107423
Adams103210
Randolph92611
Effingham8361
Whiteside70220
Ogle6516
Vermilion6484
Grundy6455
Monroe63915
Henry6365
Morgan62823
Knox6273
Bureau59711
Jefferson57238
Marion5180
Macoupin5157
Union50724
Franklin5053
Stephenson4846
Christian46011
McDonough45915
Logan4401
Woodford4086
Crawford4002
Cass38911
Jersey38514
Fayette3733
Shelby3604
Iroquois35919
Livingston3486
Lee3471
Perry34215
Montgomery33913
Warren3142
Saline2993
Bond2964
Douglas2857
Wayne2565
Lawrence2512
Jo Daviess2462
Carroll2174
Greene2167
Moultrie2083
Jasper2029
Cumberland2014
Hancock1993
Washington1981
Richland1714
Pulaski1611
White1610
Clark1542
Fulton1530
Johnson1480
Wabash1471
Clay1420
Piatt1320
Mason1291
Mercer1295
Menard1200
Pike1131
Edgar1117
De Witt1041
Ford995
Marshall980
Massac972
Scott750
Alexander731
Gallatin692
Hamilton670
Edwards640
Henderson640
Putnam550
Stark532
Calhoun470
Schuyler460
Brown430
Hardin370
Pope261
Out of IL20

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 113337

Reported Deaths: 3530
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20936761
Lake10334319
Elkhart6438109
St. Joseph6226103
Allen6060200
Hamilton4761109
Vanderburgh349430
Hendricks2681122
Monroe251236
Tippecanoe231213
Johnson2279123
Clark215756
Porter209046
Cass19339
Delaware189561
Vigo178524
Madison161075
LaPorte138239
Floyd132161
Howard129063
Warrick122336
Kosciusko120617
Bartholomew115357
Marshall99424
Dubois95918
Boone95646
Hancock91443
Grant89733
Noble89432
Henry78125
Wayne74714
Jackson7429
Morgan70638
Shelby66629
Daviess65428
Dearborn63928
LaGrange63211
Clinton59513
Harrison56424
Putnam53810
Lawrence50628
Montgomery50521
Knox5039
Gibson4894
White48214
DeKalb46311
Decatur45739
Miami4303
Greene41935
Fayette41813
Jasper3862
Steuben3747
Scott35910
Sullivan33112
Jennings31212
Posey3090
Franklin30325
Clay2985
Orange28624
Ripley2828
Carroll27113
Wabash2628
Washington2611
Whitley2556
Starke2537
Adams2523
Wells2503
Jefferson2443
Fulton2352
Huntington2223
Spencer2223
Tipton22022
Perry21513
Randolph2097
Jay1750
Newton17211
Owen1671
Martin1640
Rush1534
Pike1411
Vermillion1260
Fountain1202
Pulaski1151
Blackford1133
Brown1033
Crawford1030
Parke961
Benton880
Ohio777
Union770
Switzerland690
Warren391
Unassigned0225