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In-person voting takes on different feel in primary; mail-in ballots more popular during pandemic

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Allen County voters encountered changes at polls designed to keep people safe from COVID-19 threat.
South Side H.S. was one of 25 large voting locations secured for Tuesday's presidential primary in Allen County.

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - Tradition did not rule the day during Tuesday's presidential primary.

It has been an Election Day like no other we've seen in northeast Indiana.

In Allen County, mail-in ballots figured to outnumber in-person votes cast in the primary by a significant margin.

There were voting machines in polling places, but other things you encountered at the vote centers Tuesday looked unfamiliar.

There were 25 larger voting locations in the county, including many high schools and churches.

Usually, a presidential primary locally will include voting in more than one hundred precincts.

People entering polling places saw panes of glass separating voters from poll workers at check-in areas.

Each voter arriving was given a glove to wear.

"From that, then they can handle anything that they handle like the stylus when they sign their name into the poll book, or when they actually do the voting with the buttons on the voting machine," said Jan Goshert, a poll inspector at The Pointe Church, one of the physical voting locations.

"It's slow, but steady and that's what we were hoping for. And we would have these big, big locations with lots of voting machines and that there wouldn't be any lines and people would have an easy way in and out quickly," said Beth Dlug, Allen County's Director of Elections.

"It was all for us to stay safe and healthy, so I didn't mind the extra precautions and extra steps," said voter Katrise Hawkins.

An estimated 35,000 mail-in ballots will be part of the final tally to determine winners in contested races.

Those votes will be counted by 35 two-person teams starting Wednesday at the Memorial Coliseum, with the expectation that a final tabulation in races will be announced to the public on Thursday or Friday.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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