(WEHT)- Shelley Kirk spoke with Vanderburgh County Clerk Carla Hayden about Indiana’s primary election Tuesday afternoon.
Shelley Kirk: The polling places are open in Evansville for another couple of hours on this primary voting day in Indiana. Joining us now is Vanderburgh County Clerk Carla Hayden, thank you so much for being here. How has the day gone for you? What kind of turnout have your workers seen in the polls so far?
Carla Hayden: It’s been slow but steady today. The last count I had, people who voted in person today was about 9500, so that’s a little low for a presidential primary.
Kirk: Could any of that be attributed to the absentee ballot? This is the first time that I can remember that anyone can vote absentee for any reason really.
Hayden: That’s true, this is the first time anybody could vote absentee without having to give a specific reason to do so.
Kirk: Did you have a lot of absentee ballots that you know have so far
Hayden: Last count I had was about 9,500, so that was higher than we would normally see.
Kirk: What would you normally, what would you normally see? What number?
Hayden: In the last presidential, it was about 2500 by mail, and then most of the people that in that election, if they voted early, they voted in person and we’ve seen just almost the reverse of the number of people who voted in person as well as to those who had voted by mail, so, this is about the equal number, but it’s that they came from different places.
Kirk: Gotcha and of course, a lot of that was because of the COVID-19, and we wanted to open that up so people would feel confident and not maybe being infected if they didn’t want to go in person. But there have also been some folks that raised concerns about the security of absentee ballots. Do you have any reservations or concerns about the security of absentee ballots?
Hayden: As far as the ballots themselves in our office going in, going out, I have no concerns there. Otherwise, it’s as secure anything else that you do by mail, as long as no one’s, you know, monitoring your mailbox or anything like that, but, but in general it’s as secure as anything else that you would do by mail as far as mailing checks or anything like that. It’s the same type of process.
Kirk: Okay, and as far as the polling places today, of course, it is a little bit different because of COVID-19, are your polar poll workers adapting to that change with the social distancing and then sanitizing and things like that?
Hayden: They are, they’re doing very well. They, of course, all had to wear some kind of face covering, either a mask or a face shield or both. There was a little extra time dedicated to cleaning equipment in between voters. We had to take a little extra space, extra tables and things to be able to accommodate social distancing to keep everybody six feet apart. So there were some extra challenges that we had to overcome in order to to meet all those goals.
Kirk: Now with the absentee ballots that we were talking about, I know that the Secretary of State Connie Lawson was saying that it could be a long night for some counties that have a lot of absentee ballots out there. Are you anticipating being able to announce winners tonight? Or do you think it may take a while for those returns to all be counted?
Hayden: We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to have totals tonight, barring any unforeseen circumstances. We did bring in some additional people to work on opening all of those ballots and getting them ready to run through the tabulators. We did also have a second tabulator today. So were we able to run those through a little faster, we usually just work on one so we’ve doubled up on that. So we’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to get some totals before the end of the night.
Kirk: We all hope so too. And of course, we will be watching ready to give out those returns as soon as you validate them. Carla Hayden, thank you so much for joining us tonight and talking a little bit about this unusual Election Day.
(This story was originally published on June 2, 2020.)