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Thousands of absentee ballots still to be processed for Primary Election

June 24, 2020

Graphic by Owensboro Times

Primary Election results at both the local and state level will not be official until June 30. In Daviess County alone, thousands of absentee votes must still be counted. Officials with the Clerk’s Office said they will remain vigilant in arriving early and staying late each day until every eligible ballot rolls through. 

Initial results for Daviess County can be found here.

In total, 18,700 absentee ballots were requested by Daviess County residents. As of Tuesday evening, approximately 13,000 absentee ballots had been returned — though only about 6,000 have been processed and included in the unofficial count so far.

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That leaves 7,000 that have not been fully processed, plus several more thousand that could be returned in the coming days.

According to Chief Deputy Clerk Richard House, mail-in ballots — postmarked by Tuesday — have until June 27 to be received. 

An election team of 10-12 individuals worked throughout the month of June to process as many absentee ballots as possible before Election Day, but stacks of containers filled with ballots remained at the Courthouse awaiting verification on Tuesday. 

Plus, 2,400 ballots arrived in the mail on Tuesday alone. 

Though they still have thousands to count, the Clerk’s Office did share all the votes they’ve counted so far.

“Tonight we shared the results of what we’ve done behind the scenes and the results of the in-person voting conducted at the Courthouse,” said County Clerk Leslie McCarty, who noted roughly 2,000 in-person votes were cast prior to Election Day.

McCarty said most everything ran smoothly Tuesday at the Owensboro Sportscenter — the lone in-person polling site for the county — but that election officials encountered several individuals who’d requested absentee ballots and hadn’t received them. Those individuals were taken to a separate line where their absentee ballot request had to be cancelled before they were allowed to vote in person.

The election team also faced issues with incomplete absentee ballots, saying a relatively high number of voters either didn’t follow instructions for their mail-in ballots before returning them, had mismatched signatures on the envelopes, or didn’t complete their absentee ballots — resulting in their ballot being tossed. 

Joy Gray, one of four people who checks signatures during the verification process, said she was grateful for updated technology that allowed them to compare signatures through the computer instead of digging through files at the Courthouse as was done in the past. 

Gray said those whose signatures didn’t match their driver’s licenses were called and were able to come to the Courthouse to get verified. However, ballots that were missing a signature or an important section had to be scratched. 

Even though the ability to scan absentee ballots made the process easier compared to past elections, Gray said verifying larger-than-normal volume has been a trying process for all of those involved. Everyone working on the ballots has also been fielding questions regarding the election, manning the phones and assisting people doing early in-person voting at the Courthouse. 

McCarty said she and her team did months worth of prep work within 30 days to get all of the absentee ballots organized and sent off. McCarty said on Tuesday that she’d been at the Courthouse since 5 a.m., and that she was prepared to come in at 6 a.m. Wednesday to start processing the thousands of absentee ballots still to go. 

“Tomorrow morning, it’ll look like today,” she said. “We’ll be here counting absentee ballots.” 

June 24, 2020

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