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Indiana primary sets up tough race for congressional seat

Indiana’s first election to feature widespread mail-in balloting concluded Tuesday with long lines in Indianapolis delaying the closure of some in-person voting locations by three hours.

Posted: Jun 3, 2020 8:24 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s first election to feature widespread mail-in balloting concluded Tuesday with long lines in Indianapolis delaying the closure of some in-person voting locations by three hours.

Nearly 550,000 voters requested mail-in ballots — more than 10 times the number cast during the 2016 primary — after coronavirus concerns prompted officials to delay the primary by four weeks from its original May 5 date.

Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden easily won Indiana's delegates in their respective primaries.

Voters also chose Republican Victoria Spartz and Democrat Christina Hale as the candidates for an expected costly campaign for control of a central Indiana congressional seat. Democrat Frank Mrvan won the first step toward replacing longtime Rep. Pete Visclosky in the party's northwestern Indiana stronghold.

VOTING ISSUES

Indianapolis voters faced waits of an hour or more at several voting locations throughout the day as Marion County had 22 sites open rather than its normal 270. Some candidates criticized county officials for that decision, but an election administrator said they had no other choice.

“It was impractical for us to have anything close to the normal number of locations during a pandemic,” said Russell Hollis, deputy director of the Marion County clerk’s office. It has been very difficult for us to recruit enough poll workers during the pandemic.”

A few Indianapolis polling locations remained open three hours past the normal 6 p.m. closing time so voters in line could cast ballots, Hollis said. Several other counties also drastically slashed the number of polling sites open Tuesday. St. Joseph County, for instance, had 12 sites open in and around South Bend rather than the 120 planned before the pandemic struck.

The long lines at Indianapolis polling sites was the only significant issue reported statewide, Indiana Secretary of State’s office spokesman Ian Hauer said.

Some people questioned whether voters need to wear face masks inside polling sites. While state election officials encouraged voters to wear face masks, Hauer said they were not required to do so.

Some county election administrators and candidates have said they worried that thousands of mail-in ballots could go uncounted if they arrived at election offices after the noon Tuesday deadline. The huge increase in mail-in ballots also has election officials warning it could take more than one day to tally them all, possibly delaying determination of some primary winners.

Lake County Democratic Party chairman James Wieser said his county received more than 25,000 absentee ballots and that officials began counting them at 8 a.m. Tuesday. He was unsure when the count would be completed.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

In 2016, the Republican and Democratic presidential races weren’t settled ahead of Indiana’s primary. That drama — and voter draw — was missing this year with Biden and Trump cruising to victory.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and Democratic business executive Woody Myers are unopposed for their party’s gubernatorial nominations for the November election.

5TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Spartz, a state senator from Noblesville, won the Republican nomination to replace GOP Rep. Susan Brooks in a district that Democrats are targeting for the fall election as its suburban Indianapolis areas have become less solidly Republican.

Spartz won Tuesday’s primary over 14 other candidates in the 5th Congressional District after flooding TV screens and mailboxes with ads fueled largely by $1 million she loaned to her campaign.

Hale, a former state representative from Indianapolis, won the Democratic primary and will face Spartz in the November election.

Spartz also benefited from nearly $500,000 spent by the Washington-based anti-tax Club for Growth on ads highlighting past criticisms of President Donald Trump by other candidates in a race that largely turned into a contest of Trump loyalty.

That enabled Spartz to build name identification as a first-time candidate after two years in the state Senate from being picked by party activists to complete a retired senator’s term.

Hale was the 2016 Democratic lieutenant governor nominee, and she has already raised more than $1 million. Hale’s closest challenger was Dee Thornton, the party’s 2018 candidate for the seat who was endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus PAC.

1st CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Visclosky’s choice to replace him after 36 years in Congress won the Democratic primary in northwestern Indiana’s 1st District.

Frank Mrvan, a Lake County township trustee whose father is a longtime state senator from Hammond, defeated 13 other candidates. Five-term Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott entered the campaign as the most-prominent candidate, but Mrvan picked up endorsements from Visclosky and the United Steelworkers union.

Mrvan and McDermott far outpaced other hopefuls, including state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon of Munster and Valparaiso attorney Jim Harper, who was the 2018 Democratic candidate for secretary of state.

Mrvan will be a heavy favorite in the November election against Republican primary winner Mark Leyva, who has lost several times to Visclosky.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 45952

Reported Deaths: 2650
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11387679
Lake4872240
Elkhart308543
Allen2677114
St. Joseph184965
Cass16369
Hamilton1484100
Hendricks136699
Johnson1235118
Porter68537
Madison64363
Tippecanoe6408
Clark62244
Bartholomew57844
Howard54356
LaPorte53925
Kosciusko4952
LaGrange4596
Jackson4553
Noble44728
Vanderburgh4306
Hancock42935
Delaware42648
Boone42242
Shelby41625
Marshall4123
Floyd36344
Morgan32031
Montgomery28720
Grant28526
Clinton2792
Dubois2606
White25810
Monroe25628
Decatur24632
Henry23515
Lawrence23124
Vigo2248
Harrison20822
Dearborn20422
Warrick20129
Greene18431
Miami1802
Jennings16911
Putnam1658
DeKalb1594
Scott1547
Daviess13916
Orange13323
Wayne1286
Franklin1248
Steuben1232
Perry1209
Ripley1127
Carroll1092
Jasper1092
Wabash1072
Fayette967
Newton9510
Whitley814
Randolph764
Starke733
Huntington702
Wells681
Jay670
Fulton661
Jefferson651
Washington641
Pulaski631
Knox620
Clay594
Rush573
Benton480
Adams451
Owen451
Gibson442
Sullivan441
Brown381
Blackford372
Posey350
Spencer311
Tipton301
Crawford290
Fountain292
Switzerland250
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike80
Unassigned0194

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