Hendricks County finished 2020 primary count
By Gus Pearcy
While many counties are still counting mail-in ballots, Hendricks County posted unofficial results of the delayed 2020 Primary Election at 11:08 p.m.
Hendricks County Clerk DJ Hoskins said the results were significantly delayed because of the unusually large amount of mail-in absentee ballots compared to years past. Hoskins estimated that the county sent out 1,600 mail-in ballots in the 2016 presidential primary. This year, due to COVID-19 concerns, the county sent out 10, 159 ballots. More than 8,700 were returned by the noon election day deadline to be counted in this year’s primary.
Hoskins’ seat produced one of the evening’s closest races. Marjorie Pike narrowly defeated Jayson Puckett to capture the Republican nomination for circuit court clerk by less than 500 votes. No Democrat challenger has emerged, but the party could name one later this summer.
Other local contested races for the Republican nomination for the November ballot include the Dist. 2 Hendricks County Commissioner race between five candidates. Dennis Dawes captured the nomination with 39% of the vote or 5,162 votes.
There were three seats available in the Republican primary for Hendricks County Council. Eight candidates were vying for the nomination which went to Kendall Hendricks with 16.8% of the vote; Larry Hesson with 16.2% of the vote and David Wyeth with 15% of the vote.
Contested Democrat races included U.S. representative for Dist. 4 won by Joe Mackey with 53% of the Hendricks County vote. He was also declared the overall winner in the multi-county district.
President Donald Trump and Joe Biden were the local winners in the presidential primary. Trump captured 91% of the vote. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee won with 77% in a very crowded field of nine candidates all of whom have dropped out of the running but did not meet the deadline for withdrawing their names from the state ballots.
Hendricks County registered a 20% turnout despite the concerns. The primary was delayed for four weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak which began in March. Despite the encouragement and relaxed reasons for mail-in voting by absentee, more than 13,600 voters came to the polls on Tuesday in Hendricks County. There were 23 vote centers open out of 25. Two locations could not open because the locations were shutdown. Only a few centers were still voting at 6 p.m. One center did not return the tally until after 8:30 p.m.
Counting the mail-in ballots slowed the process considerably. Hendricks County has two scanners to read the Scantron cards sent in. Still it is a slow process with only 1,200 votes to be scanned in every hour. The canvassing process of verifying the secrecy envelopes, comparing signatures with the applications for mail-in ballots and collecting the ballots per precinct could not start until noon on election day. Hendricks County Voting Supervisor Laura Herzog had 20 canvassing teams made up of a Democrat and a Republican to open the ballots. But the real delay was scanning the ballot cards to tally the votes.