GOSHEN — Primary election results were not complete Tuesday night as mailed ballots are expected to continue to arrive until Friday’s extended deadline for such ballots.
Elkhart County Clerk Chris Anderson said election officials had a general idea Tuesday of what the percentages may be. Although the numbers won’t all be official, “will it be plus or minus 10? Yeah.”
After the polls closed, Anderson firmed up vote numbers, saying, “We won’t get final numbers until Friday’s mail delivery,” Anderson said. “We mailed out 10,768 ballots. We have already scanned 6,277. The Election Day total was 14,007 and the early in person was 1,084.”
There are still around 1,500 mail-in ballots to scan, Anderson said. Those will be counted Thursday.
The total ballots scanned as of Tuesday night amounted to 21,368.
Voters who had a postmark of no later than noon Tuesday on their ballots will still have their votes counted if they are delivered to Anderson’s office by noon Friday.
“We won’t have the official results until next week Friday (June 12) because we have the provisionals,” he said.
Provisional ballots are those cast by voters who are challenged at the polls for some reason, usually their residency status. Anderson said they had such ballots Tuesday because the voters wanted to vote in Elkhart County and said they live here, but they were registered to vote in St. Joseph County. Such voters are allowed to complete their ballot with the understanding their status as a legal county voter will be reviewed.
The county election board will not give its final approval to the election returns until June 12.
The secretary of state has given counties extra days to get absentee ballots added to the results, Anderson said. He said it may take a couple of days to get all absentee ballots scanned.
The election staff was scheduled to quit for the day at midnight, according to Anderson, because by then he and several staff members would have put in 21 hours at that point. And they have been putting in long hours for the past three weeks, he explained.
“When you get tired, that’s when mistakes happen,” Anderson said, and that is something he does not want. “… We will take this into the next day if it takes longer as the secretary has given us authority to do.”
TURNOUT AND COVID-19
Vote centers supervisors interviewed Tuesday morning said that although voting was steady, it was not as high as in past presidential elections.
In 2016, another presidential primary year, turnout in Elkhart County was 34.5%. That year there were nine Republican candidates, including Donald Trump, and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
The reason for Tuesday’s apparent lower turnout, either from more participation in early voting or concerns about the novel coronavirus, the supervisors could not say. Although, those interviewed said they were not concerned because of the steps that were taken to lessen the chances of catching the virus. The vote centers were prepared with Plexiglas barriers, hand sanitizer, cotton swabs for styluses and disinfectant for tables and frequently touched items.
Anderson said six poll workers called in over the weekend to give notice they were not feeling well and thought it best they stayed away from the polls. The Democrat and Republican parties found replacements for those workers, he said.
Although masks were not required, most voters and staff at the vote centers visited wore them.
“I felt comfortable coming in today,” said Rachel Miller, of Goshen, who was voting in her very first election at Maple City Chapel. She said she wasn’t concerned because that even with protection from the coronavirus, ultimately her fate was in God’s hands.
Her mom, Julia Miller, Goshen, said since it was Rachel’s first time voting they really wanted to do so in person “and we got to do it together,” she said.
Both felt it was important to exercise their right to vote, and to vote in officials who will well represent them.
Also voting was Dan Becker, of Goshen, who stopped in at Grace Community Church to cast his ballot. He believed proper precautions were being taken. He was upset, though, that Greencroft was listed as a voting center and when he went there, he was turned away because it was for residents only. He thought if it was private, the vote center should not have been listed with the others.
Anderson said, the oldest person to cast a ballot in the primary Tuesday morning was 104, and “the oldest first-time voter just cast their ballot at one of my vote centers. They are 70. ... That makes me feel good.”