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Election board to issue absentee ballots

by MACKENZI KLEMANN - mklemann@wabashplaindealer.com

The Wabash County Election Board has agreed to issue absentee ballots to voters who submitted applications which had been altered by the Indiana Democratic Party, reversing a decision Tuesday that would have required affected voters to sign new application forms prior to receiving an absentee ballot.

That decision affects about 30 applications, according to Wabash County Clerk Elaine Martin.

Martin confirmed to the Plain Dealer last week that her office has not rejected any of the affected applications, which were considered invalid because the Indiana Democratic Party removed instructions prior to mailing forms to voters.

“The thought process for this Board was that that Indiana Democratic Party should not have sent absentee ballot applications after altering the form,” Martin wrote. “Wabash County has several races that could potentially be close, including a public question in the form of a school referendum for Manchester Community Schools; and the Board was concerned about any potential challenge regarding ballots issued in response to the application that had been altered.”

Martin said Friday her office is now issuing absentee ballots to voters “regardless of which form was used.”

The forms altered by the Indiana Democratic Party have caused confusion for several weeks.

Secretary of State Connie Lawson originally instructed counties to contact voters using the flawed forms, requesting new signatures with a valid application. But Lawson issued a new directive several days later making an exception for voters who applied using the Democratic Party’s mass mailing, citing the large number of flawed applications distributed ahead of the General Election.

“While this is not our standard practice, it is imperative that every Hoosier voter be allowed to vote in the manner they choose, and we have taken these steps to ensure no voter is disenfranchised,” Lawson said in an email to clerks on Sept. 28.