INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier voters are heading back to the polls Tuesday for the May primary elections – and for some, it’s their first time voting in-person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday. Election officials say you must be in line by 6 p.m. to be able to vote.
“We started seeing people on the very first day of early voting and they’ve been ticking up since then,” said Shruti Rana, who chairs the election board in Monroe County, where voters are weighing in on the 9th Congressional District primary.
With more voters returning to cast their ballots in-person, Monroe County is opening more polling places for this primary, Rana explained.
They’re all staffed, she added, but more poll workers would be a big help.
“We did see a lot of poll workers retire or choose not to come back after 2018 into the 2020 elections, and so we do need more,” Rana said.
According to a spokesperson for the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office, there is no statewide mask mandate for the polls nor any other COVID-19 rules in place, though some counties plan to keep voters distanced and offer hand sanitizer.
Meanwhile, local election officials across Indiana say requests for mail-in ballots have declined significantly.
“We have one precinct that usually votes about 90% of their people, sometimes more, and I think they voted a couple of hundred by absentee mail [in 2020], and they’re hearing that most of them are coming back this year,” said Beth Sheller, election administrator for Hamilton County.
Based on the early voting turnout, both Sheller and Rana said they are expecting similar voter turnout to the 2018 primary, which was about 20% of registered voters statewide.
Election officials and advocates say they hope that number turns out to be higher.
“These are really important elections that will have a huge impact on who the victor is in November,” said Julia Vaughn, executive director of Common Cause Indiana.