EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Before the first ballots from Election Day can be gathered and counted, finishing touches must first be made for polling centers and voters. On the eve of Election Day 2022, Vanderburgh County Circuit Court Clerk Carla Hayden, along with the help of election office staff members, began their final preparations. With early voting in Indiana ending November 7, Hayden was able to see an early indication of voter turnout in Vanderburgh County, which is behind the mark of the 2018 midterm election.

“As of end of day Saturday, we had voted 16,853 people,” says Hayden. “By contrast, in 2018 when it was all said and done, we had voted 23,500.”

Mail-in ballots, however, are nearly identical to 2018. More than 4,600 ballots were mailed in, with as many as 400 more to be delivered on election day. Following the 2020 election, Hayden says there was a push to change Indiana law to allow for absentee ballots to be tabulated prior to Election Day, but that proposal was struck down by state election officials.

“It was going to allow us to start opening those ballots and scanning them 7 days before,” explains Hayden, “but we weren’t able to tabulate or release any results, but the election commission issued a ruling that said, ‘scanning equals tabulation’, so we still can’t open them before election day.”

Hayden says all absentee ballots should be counted by the time polls close. In recent years, the topic of voter security has been highly discussed. When it comes to the safety and integrity of your vote, Hayden says one factor alone eliminates the possibility of a compromised election.

“None of the election equipment in Indiana is connected to the internet,” says Hayden. “None of the voting equipment people will be using, none of the tabulation equipment that will be counting those ballots on is connected to the internet at any time.”