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Election director: start planning how you’ll vote in November

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) -- With the coronavirus pandemic still in full swing, election leaders are already working to make the upcoming November election as safe as possible for you.

Unlike the primary election, you won't be able to request an absentee ballot unless you qualify.

Allen County's early voting begins in less than a month, and it will look different than it did for the primary.

"You do have to have a reason to get a mailed absentee ballot in the mail," says Allen County election director Beth Dlug.

Unlike the primary election, you won't be able to request an absentee ballot unless you qualify.

She says unlike Indiana's primary election that allowed anyone to send in an absentee ballot, you'll need to meet one of 12 criteria to get one for the November election.

"If you have a reasonable expectation of being out of the county on Election Day or if you're working the entire 12 hours that the polls will be open or if you will be confined because of a disability or an illness," she says.

Dlug saysthe election board has already received more applications for absentee ballots than were returned in 2016.

"In the 2016 election, we only had a little over 10,000 people that voted by mail, and we already have 14,000 applications," Dlug says.

Postage for all those ballots mailed to people and sent back in put an enormous strain on the election board's budget.

Dlug says she asked county council a few weeks ago for $240,000 to be able to function through the end of the year.

"When we planned at the beginning of the year maybe to have somewhere around 15,000 absentee ballots go out for the total of the year, and now we're looking at something like 80,000 ballots for the total of the year, it does, yes, increase the cost for voting," she says.

Unlike the primary, where early voting was set up for a month before the election at the Grand Wayne Center, early voting will now be held at the Memorial Coliseum, the temporary, socially-distanced home of the election board.

A handful of satellite locations around Fort Wayne will open several days before the election, as well.

Your polling place may change because there will be 70 voting locations, which is fewer than the typical 116 of them, in order to reduce the number of poll workers needed.

"The voters are actually going to come in, vote, and leave, and spend a short period of time in that location. Where the poll workers are staying all day long, sometimes as long as 15 hours," Dlug says.

Election Day is scheduled to be November 3.

There will be no charge to park at the Coliseum if you go there to vote early.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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