INDIANAPOLIS — The counting of absentee ballots continued Wednesday at the Marion County Election Service Center.
Russell Hollis, deputy director of the Marion County Clerk’s Office, confirmed that on Tuesday election workers counted and tabulated into the election results an estimated 113,000 ballots.
An update provided from the Marion County Board of Elections showed that between 10 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, an additional 87,056 absentee ballots were counted and tabulated for a total of 201,390.
“Marion County is a central count county, which means we have to centrally count all of our absentee ballots in one location, and that’s our Election Service Center on the east side of Indianapolis,” said Hollis.
The county hired approximately 150 workers to help count absentee ballots. Hollis explained the process is “tedious” but said workers are taking steps to ensure a fair and accurate count.
Election worker Kim Shepherd said it was her first time ever working an election. She helped at the polls on Election Day and counted absentee ballots on Wednesday.
“I just feel like every election is important. This one just seems to be a major election, probably the most in my lifetime, but mostly it’s just every vote counts whether they’re early or they’re absentee, and we want every vote to count,” said Shepherd.
Tiffany Keown, also a first-time election worker, said being a part of the process of counting absentee ballots is “reassuring.”
“I think that’s one of the big reasons I came is to make sure, you know, these do get done in a fast, appropriate time,” said Keown. “Coming in, everyone’s kind of all hands on deck and is just pushing to get these votes counted.”
Shepherd and Keown were sitting across from each other at the table where they worked, but the two also say what separates them is their party identifications. Despite their differences in political beliefs, the two say they’ve formed a friendship during their time counting ballots.
“We are both different identifications, and we’ve been working really well together. We both want the same thing and that’s that every ballot gets counted,” said Keown.
Shepherd said, “It’s exciting, it’s just been the election has dragged on so long and been so raucous that it’s fun to see everybody getting along, and there’s no animosity here. Everyone’s after the same goal, to have every vote counted.”
Despite the use of high-speed tabulating machines and the help of hundreds of workers, county election officials said the process to count all absentee ballots will take some time.
The Marion County Election Board confirmed Wednesday afternoon it will continue counting absentee ballots Thursday, but an exact timeline on when the process will be done is not clear.
“We have to accurately count the vote. We’ve been saying for weeks now that it would take several days to count the vote,” said Hollis.
“Things are happening just as we have been saying they would happen. Just give us some time, and we will get those votes counted as quickly as possible and as accurately as possible,” he state.
Hollis explained the process of verifying, counting and tabulating absentee ballots.
“That includes opening the absentee ballots as well as the early, in-person ballots. We matched the signatures on the applications to the signatures on the absentee envelopes,” he said. “We make sure the precinct on those envelopes and on the ballot is correct, and we make sure the voter signed their absentee envelope.”