Dubois County Clerk Amy Kippenbrock is expecting absentee vote-by-mail ballots (mail-in ballots) from Dubois County voters to top the number of those cast in the primary earlier this year.
Voters cast 1,765 votes by mail in June, but the governor had lifted restrictions on mail-in voting so that anyone could vote by mail due to the pandemic.
For the general election, Indiana has not lifted those restrictions, but as of Tuesday at about noon, the clerk’s office had still received 1,044 requests for mail-in ballots.
Before 2020, the most mail-in ballots cast in Dubois County stood at around 860.
“We are two months away and I fully expect to process 4,000 plus mail-in ballots,” Kippenbrock said. “We are prepared well beyond that. We have all of the resources in place and ready to go for anyone who wants to vote by mail.”
Although the clerk’s office is prepared to handle those requests, Kippenbrock wants voters to know they have a full month before Election Day to cast their votes at one of the early voting locations in the county.
Beginning on October 6, the Courthouse Annex will have polls open five days a week and two Saturdays in October for early voting until the day before the election.
The week before the election, early voting will also be available at the 35th Street Fire Station, the Ferdinand Library, the Huntingburg Event Center, and the Dubois Library. There will also be roaming satellite locations open for voting from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. that week. (We’ve attached the schedule below.)
“If you are worried about coming in person for voting, we have a lot of early voting options,” Kippenbrock said. “I don’t think people realize how many in-person voting options we have in Dubois County.”
Kippenbrock pointed out the early voting means lines will be short and well-spaced out if people are waiting to vote but voters could also come in the morning when there likely isn’t a line for voting.
Additionally, the clerk’s office has a tremendous amount of materials on hand for personal protection for voters as well as ensuring sanitation requirements are met.
“We have hand sanitizer, we have gloves available, we have lots of PPE (personal protective equipment) and we are providing cleaning materials for cleaning the equipment,” Kippenbrock said. “Most people are wearing their own masks but we can still provide a mask if necessary.”
Any registered voter in Dubois County can vote at any of these locations until the day before Election Day. On Election Day, voters will have to report to the polling locations that handles their precinct.
If anyone wants to vote by mail, they must submit an application in time for it to arrive at the clerk’s office by October 22. October 23 is the last day the Dubois County Clerk’s Office will send out ballots.
By state law, mail-in ballots must be back to the clerk’s office by noon on Election Day.
Kippenbrock explained that locally, the post office has worked very well with the clerk’s office to ensure any votes arriving on Election Day are in her office by noon.
“I think the post office does a great job for us,” she said. “We’ve been in communication and they are aware of the volume we are expecting and planning for.”
She explained historically in Dubois County, the post office will check all the blue mailboxes in the county in time to meet that noon deadline on Election Day.
“In the spring, we had people that came from the Evansville Post Office to deliver ballots before noon,” she said. “The post office has a big part of making voting by mail successful but at a local level, I feel we have some great people with a good communication flow already in place who want to execute that job.”
Here is how Indiana ensures mail-in ballots are secure. When a voter requests a mail-in ballot — there are 12 reasons listed on the application for which a voter can request to vote by mail — the state generates a unique ballot with an identifying barcode and the voter’s information on it. When the Dubois County Clerk’s Office sends out the ballot, they scan that barcode again to let the state know it has been mailed.
Then, when the ballot envelope is received from the voter, the barcode is scanned again. When that is done, the clerk’s office compares the signatures on the ballot envelope to the signature on the mail-in ballot application as well as the signature the voter has on file with the state as a registered voter.
“If we have that first look and notice that something doesn’t jive or those signatures don’t match, we flag that ballot,” Kippenbrock said. “We flag that so that the people that count the ballots on election day can review it and the election board can make a decision if necessary.”
Those mail-in ballots are then placed in a locked cabinet. That cabinet has two locks on it with each key being held by a representative of the Democratic and Republican parties.
“It is bipartisan,” Kippenbrock said. “Two different locks with two different keys with two different people that hold those keys.”
On election day, the clerk’s office can begin counting those ballots after noon but the county’s election board can approve a resolution to move that count up to 6 a.m. Kippenbrock said that due to the expected number of mail-in ballots, she plans on presenting that resolution at the next election board meeting.
Ballot counters again compare the signatures on the materials while counting the votes on Election Day and any that were previously flagged can be examined by the election board for final approval.
Then at 6 p.m. when polls officially close, if all has gone well, Kippenbrock can issue those early results from the mail-in ballots.
Residents can also request to vote through a travel board. Many times, the travel board will work with local nursing homes for residents to cast their ballots but this year, nursing homes have only requested mail-in ballots for their residents.
If someone does still need the travel board to cast their vote, Kippenbrock said they will adhere to all of the CDC’s guidelines to prevent the potential spread of the novel coronavirus.
This is expected to be a big election. Historically, presidential elections bring more voters out but Kippenbrock is prepared for larger than average numbers even in the face of a pandemic.
With a little more than two months to go before Election Day on Tuesday, November 3, she is still asking what else they can do to ensure it all goes smoothly and safely.
“I feel like I constantly ask myself and the people in this office what more can we do,” she said. “We are prepared.”
She said that if voters have concerns or questions about voting, please reach out.
“I would like to say, please go vote. Your vote counts,” Kippenbrock said. “Every vote and every voice matters. I can’t stress it enough. We are prepared and we want you to vote.”
If you are wanting to help with voting as a poll worker or volunteer, contact the Republican or Democratic Party chair you are affiliated with. For Republicans, contact Senator Mark Messmer at Mark795@psci.net or call 812-634-1589 and leave a message. For the Democratic Party, contact Mike Kendall at 812-827-0000 and leave a message or email email@example.com.
To see who is on your ballot go to https://indianavoters.in.gov/; scroll down and click “Who’s on the ballot”; type in your information; the candidates will be listed on the right.
Here are the early voting locations.