MUNCIE, Ind. — The Star Press reported this week that the Delaware County Election Board was investigating absentee ballots sent to voters who hadn’t requested them.
Since that news broke, Delaware County Clerk Rick Spangler has said his office has received calls from concerned residents apparently confused about whether what they’ve found in their mail was one of those unsolicited absentee ballots, or just an application that could be used to request a ballot.
Is it an absentee voting application?
A ballot application is the form a registered voter can fill out asking to receive an absentee ballot by mail.
The document will have some boxes to fill out with voter information, and most tellingly a series of questions about why you need an absentee ballot ahead of time instead of voting in person on election day.
You can’t vote with it and it won’t include the names and offices of candidates.
Unsolicited absentee voter application forms have been sent out by state party offices, not from local or state elections offices. Receiving one does not indicate a voter has been registered to vote by mail; the voter would need to submit the application to receive an absentee ballot.
►ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATIONS: State parties mailed absentee ballot applications, confusing voters
If you receive an absentee ballot application but don’t want to vote by mail, simply shred the application and go vote in person as you normally would, either early at the election office or at your polling site on election day, Nov. 3.
Is it an actual absentee ballot?
An absentee ballot is the form you would use to cast your vote ahead of election day. It will include the names and offices of candidates up for election, and typically will also include a corresponding ballot card that you will fill in and submit like a scantron form, as well as a special security envelope the voter must sign.
This is the document that was the central focus of the Delaware County Election Board meeting on Tuesday, when people who had not filled out applications received absentee ballots in the mail.
►ABSENTEE BALLOTS BY MAIL: Delaware County investigates absentee ballots sent to voters who didn’t request them
Now county election officials are trying to determine how many people have received the unasked-for absentee ballots, and to make sure affected residents don’t have problems voting in person as a result. You can’t vote in person if you are listed as having applied to vote absentee, whether you mailed in the ballot or not.
To remedy that, you have to surrender the ballot you received in the mail to either your precinct on election day, or the cler’ks office before the election.
If you receive an absentee mail-in ballot that you did not request you should contact the clerk’s office immediately to have it voided. Voters affected can reach the clerk’s office Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. in person at the government complex, or by phone at 765-747-7726.
For more information about voting, including a link to check your registration status, lists of who’s on the ballot and polling sites, go to indianavoters.in.gov.
Corey Ohlenkamp is the city/county government reporter. Contact him via email at [email protected] or by phone at 765-213-5874. Follow him on Twitter at @Ohlenkamp
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