As the entire country gears up for this election, Allen County voters keep chugging along in the middle of pandemic havoc, turning up in large numbers to vote in person at the Allen County Coliseum since early voting began on Oct. 6.
Director of Elections Beth Dlug said that as of Wednesday, 20,000 Allen County residents have voted early, and another 25,000 have returned mail-in ballots out of the 35,000 who requested them. And election officials are bracing for a busy next week as Coliseum voting hours expand, and four satellite voting locations open around the county to accommodate early voters.
The Coliseum site will be open for voting from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. beginning Monday to Friday, Oct. 30; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 31; and 8 a.m. to noon on Monday Nov. 2.
Satellite locations are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, Oct. 30, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31. Locations are Indiana Wesleyan University, 8211 W. Jefferson Blvd.; Public Safety Academy, 7602 Patriot Crossing; Rousseau Centre, One East Main St.; and Salomon Farm Park, 817 W. Dupont Road. All satellite locations are open to all Allen County voters.
Voters who want to vote in person on Election Day must vote between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. at their assigned voting location. Voters can check their voting location by logging into the election board website at allencounty.us/election-board. Dlug said county officials reduced the number of voting locations to protect poll workers from COVID-19 exposure by ensuring fewer poll workers spend long days in voting locations.
Mail-in ballots must be received at the Election Board office by noon on Election Day. Dlug said election officials can begin counting mail-in ballots at 6 a.m. on Nov. 3 before retrieving ballots returned via the U.S. Post Office. She expects to have unofficial results by early evening on Wednesday, Nov. 4. The application deadline for mail-in ballots was 11:59 p.m. on Thursday.
The Election Board is scheduled to meet on Nov. 13 to audit mail-in ballot results, and begin determining whether to accept provisional ballots cast. By Monday, Nov. 16, election officials will certify and submit the county's final results to state election officials.
Dlug said few voters have complained about waiting in line to vote. She said early voters grab windows of opportunity, and don't seem to mind a 30- to 40-minute wait. Wait times could be longer at voting locations on Election Day.
As complicated and politically charged as the runup to the 2020 election has been, with less than two weeks to go, it's gratifying to watch Allen County's election team quietly and efficiently serve the voters well.