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Lake County planning early start for counting mail-in ballots
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Lake County planning early start for counting mail-in ballots

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CROWN POINT — Lake County election officials are hoping if Hoosiers are prevented from getting complete primary election results on June 2, due to the record number of mail-in absentee ballots, it won't be because of them.

On Tuesday, the county's election board unanimously agreed to begin counting absentee ballots starting at 6 a.m. on Election Day, rather than holding the count until after the noon deadline for absentee ballots to be received.

Don't expect final results on election night, warns Indiana secretary of state

"We know we're going to have, obviously, this year, a large number of absentee ballots," said John Reed, a Republican attorney for the Lake County Board of Elections and Voter Registration. "I hope with the early start things will get done in a timely fashion."

Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson last week said she thinks "it's going to take two or three days" to get results because of the deluge of mail-in ballots and the anticipated shortage of people to process them, along with the need to follow COVID-19 spacing and safety guidelines in county election offices.

Hoosiers request 275,000 mail-in ballots — so far

Hoosiers are not required at this election to have a specific reason for voting by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic, and already more than 350,000 mail-in ballots have been returned statewide, Lawson said.

Registered voters still have until Thursday to submit a mail-in absentee ballot request by logging into their registration record at IndianaVoters.com.

In-person early voting also will be available on a limited basis this year from May 26 to June 1, and traditional polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 2.

Voters can electronically request mail-in ballot for upcoming Indiana primary election

Lake County recently received from the Indiana secretary of state's office eight pallets of personal protective equipment, including face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, for poll workers and ballot counters to use before, on and after Election Day.

The county, however, is struggling to recruit poll workers, due in part to traditional poll workers being among the population that is most vulnerable to COVID-19.

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Any registered voter in Lake County willing to serve as a poll worker this year can call 219-755-3795 to get more information and sign up.

The election board on Tuesday also authorized 16- and 17-year old high school students to serve as poll workers and absentee ballot counters for the primary election, even though they're not otherwise eligible to participate.

Gallery: Election Day around Northwest Indiana

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