A historic number of mail-in ballots have been requested in Indiana

Nearly 800-thousand Hoosiers have requested mail-in ballots, but that won’t necessarily delay Indiana’s results.

Indiana counties don’t have to wait till the polls close to start tallying absentee and early votes — they can start as soon as the polls open on Election Day. Secretary of State Connie Lawson says Marion County requested the six a-m start a few years ago to keep up with a heavy load of early votes, and legislators extended the change to all counties.

Marion County has received more than 100-thousand absentee ballot requests, one of every eight statewide. You still have until Thursday to request a ballot.

Even with the head start, Lawson cautions counting mail-in votes will still take a while, because all those thousands of envelopes have to be, and election workers have to check the signatures. And some counties are better able than others to open a large enough space to handle those ballots while maintaining social distancing among election workers.

Lawson and other election officials warned voters not to expect results on election night in the June primary. But except for a razor-thin state House race in Indianapolis, the winners were clear on election night. Lawson says the large number of absentee ballots means there’s again no guarantee that winners will be known on Election Night. She says if a race does stay in limbo, it doesn’t mean anything’s fishy. Lawson says all Indiana’s procedures are unchanged from past elections — only the volume of ballots is different.

Indiana is one of four states which declined to allow universal mail-in balloting for next month’s election, but senior citizens and other categories of voters were already eligible to vote by mail under existing law. So far, just 32 absentee applications have been rejected.