Voting area on Super Tuesday
(Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Not Even a Hand Shake: A Primary Election During Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS–You might not have known it if you were waiting for a candidate to come to your door, but Indiana has a primary election Tuesday. Because of coronavirus, it will be an election that involves an unusual number of mail-in ballots, and candidates have not been able to campaign the way they normally would have.

“I think the biggest piece for them is just not being able to have that personal contact with voters that they would normally be able to have,” said state Republican Party Chair Kyle Hupfer. “They’re not able to go out and knock on doors, talk to them, go to small events. In-person fundraising was almost non-existent for this primary.”

LISTEN: State Republican Party Chair Kyle Hupfer talks about a different kind of election

He said person-to-person contact is difficult even now, with some restrictions pulled back.

“It’s a difficult proposition when you are wanting to keep the most vulnerable safe. You don’t know who might have a health condition, which doors are those voters who are older and more susceptible to issues around COVID.”

While in-person campaigning has been considered risky, in-person voting is happening on election day and has been going on with early voting, beginning this week. But, Sec. of State Connie Lawson noted that ansentee, mail-in voting has increased significantly. More than 300,000 Hoosiers had returned mail-in ballots by Friday. Around 544,000 people had requested ballots.

Hupfer expects more Democrat than Republican absentee ballots will be counted.

“When you look back historically, Democrats have generally voted by mail. Republicans like to go out and vote on election day.”

It’s very likely that processing election returns will take longer than normal.

“It won’t be any different than it is normally. Counties, for the most part will centrally count and will run them through machines at centralized locations. You’ll just have a lot more to run through,” said Hupfer.

But, he believes that June 2 will be a big day for in-person voting. He believes candidates will be able to get out and meet people before the general election in November.

“We’ll probably start back up sometime in mid-June,” he said.

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