NEW: Photo Gallery Of Voting In St. Joe County In A Pandemic & A Look At IN District 6 House Race

May 28, 2020

Approximately 50 people socially distance and wait to vote in the primary election at Clay High School in South Bend on June 2, 2020.
Credit Annacaroline Caruso/WVPE

NEW:

The seat for an Indiana House Representative in South Bend is up for grabs for the first time in 50 years after Democrat B. Patrick Bauer announced he wouldn’t be seeking re-election.

Three candidates are running to take over the IN House District 6 seat, Bauer’s daughter Maureen Bauer, Garrett Blad, and Drew Duncan.

Voters had mixed feelings at the polls today about which candidate would be best to take over the position.

Brian Fitzpatrick says he's voting for Blad because he doesn’t think another Bauer should get in office.

“I don’t like the idea of electing someone just because they were born in the right family. That doesn’t sound like democracy that sounds like aristocracy,” Fitzpatrick says.

Anna Nelson says she’s voting for Bauer based on experience, something she feels the other two candidates lack.

“I believe in people who have stood the test of time in government and taken actionable steps and proven that they’re willing to put their career on the line to do the right thing,” Nelson says.

Tricia Hauser says her family is split between Duncan and Blad, but won’t be voting for Bauer.

“We just feel like that family has been in office for 50 years so we’re ready for a fresh voice,” Hauser says.

Bauer was Indiana’s longest-serving state representative.

EARLIER PRIMARY ELECTION DAY POST:

Around 10am today approximately 50 people were lined up in a socially distanced fashion outside Clay High School, waiting to vote in the primary election. WVPE's Annacaroline Caruso reports most people she observed there were wearing face masks. The line is moving slowly. One voter reported it took her 45 minutes to get inside. 

This is a developing story and this post will be updated throughout the day.

File photo
Credit WFIU-WTIU

PREVIOUS POST:  

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s first election to feature widespread mail-in balloting concludes with an in-person primary that was delayed four weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus concerns prompted a four-week delay of the primary and a push widespread mail-in balloting. More than 10 times the number of mail-in ballots were requested than were cast during the 2016 primary. Some are worried about long lines for voters Tuesday as many counties cut the number of polling sites. Results could also be delayed by the work of counting so many mail-in ballots.

Those health concerns have morphed into worries about some mail-in ballots missing a deadline to be counted and lines at in-person polling places as some counties slashed their number of voting sites. Voting results might not be finalized Tuesday night in some counties as voters requested more than 10 times the number of mail-in ballots than were cast in the 2016 primary.

ORIGINAL POST:

Voters in Northern Indiana may notice some changes when going to the polls on Tuesday. Voting this year will be different due to the pandemic.

Both Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties have put safety measures in place for people who choose to vote in person. Some of those include increased cleaning of high touch surfaces, spacing out the voting stations, and masks and gloves for poll workers.

Christopher Anderson is the Elkhart County Election Administrator. He says the poll workers themselves have been a bit trickier to find.

“We’ve had a lot of our senior poll workers, because they’re part of an at-risk group, have declined to be poll workers this year," he says. "But we’ve had a lot of younger folks that have stepped up and are being poll workers for the very first time.”

Some voters aren’t comfortable with the idea of in-person voting, which is reflected in the record high numbers of absentee ballots. Anderson says they’ve sent out nearly 11,000 ballots in Elkhart County and have already received more than half back. He expects that number to more than double the previous absentee ballot record by Tuesday. 

In St. Joseph County, there will be 12 voting centers compared to the usual 120.

Due to some of the extra precautions, voters should expect it to take longer to cast their ballots.

Political analyst Dr. Elizabeth Bennion with IU South Bend says with the pandemic thrown into the mix, voter turnout will likely be lower than 2016.

“You need to find a good comparison point to tell whether or not any reduction in turnout is really a result of the pandemic and fears about the safety of voting in-person versus depressed turnout based on a lack of interest and competition at the top of the ticket.”

Bennion says the increase in people voting by mail instead of in-person may mean the primary results won’t be able to be fully tallied on Tuesday night.

Absentee ballots are not counted until Election Day, so Bennion says voters should expect a delay in results.

Contact Annacaroline at acaruso@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @AnnacarolineC16

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