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Today is the last day to apply for absentee ballot

Voting absentee by mail is the safest way to cast a ballot in the upcoming Indiana primary on June 2.

And, it is still possible to do so, but Hoosier registered voters who have not yet applied for an absentee ballot must do so before midnight tonight. Applying for the vote-by-mail ballot online is easy. Folks not online can ask a family member, friend or neighbor to help them fill out the application.

First, go online to the state of Indiana's official voter website: indianavoters.in.gov.

Then, click on "Vote by Mail or Traveling Abroad," then click on "My Voter Portal" in the center of the page. Provide your name, birth date and county of residence. A greeting with your voter information will appear. A menu will be found on the left side of the next screen. Click on "Absentee Voting," then choose "Vote by Mail." An application form will show up. Follow the instructions to complete the form electronically.

The applications are due by 11:59 p.m. tonight.

County clerk's offices will mail absentee vote-by-mail ballots to eligible applicants. The ballots must be received by the county not later than noon June 2.

Rules requiring an excuse for requesting to vote absentee by mail were lifted for the June 2 primary to allow all Indiana residents that option amid the coronavirus pandemic. Lots of Hoosiers have taken advantage of that option. As of last Friday, more than 330,000 mail-in absentee ballots had been filled out and returned by Indiana voters, Secretary of State Connie Lawson said. By contrast, only 53,818 Hoosiers cast mail-in ballots in the 2016 primary.

Lawson emphasized the value of voting by mail during this primary season. "One of the most effective ways to protect yourself and keep your poll workers safe is to vote absentee by mail," Lawson said during Gov. Eric Holcomb's coronavirus update with news media last Friday. "I encourage all voters to vote absentee in the June 2 primary."

That is a strong endorsement from Lawson, a two-term Republican.

Lawson did not consider moving Indiana to an all vote-by-mail system for the primary to respect the desires of people who prefer that traditional method, the Times of Northwest Indiana reported. As a result, in-person vote centers will be used for early voting and election day in Vigo County. Lawson also would not commit to again lifting Indiana's requirement for an excuse to vote by mail in the Nov. 3 general election.

Nonetheless, if the absentee vote-by-mail process, available to all, succeeds as it typically does elsewhere, Indiana should use it in November.

"If we need to do it in November, we can do it," Lawson said in the Times report. Such a decision would come after an assessment of the primary vote-by-mail results, and involve advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Indiana's health commissioner, Lawson added.

For now, voting by mail is indeed a wise and valid part of the June 2 Indiana primary.

Remember, the applications must be completed by a minute before midnight tonight.

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