The coronavirus pandemic is putting a damper on Election Night watch parties.
The Allen County Democratic Party announced it will have a virtual event on Facebook starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Viewers can access it at facebook.com/events/381264203074305.
“While we most likely will not have the results Election night, we would like to hear from our candidates,” Misti Meehan, party chairwoman, said in a news release.
Final vote totals are expected to be delayed until at least Wednesday because election officials must count by hand all ballots received by mail. Beth Dlug, director of county elections, has said that 35,000 registered voters asked for mail-in ballots for the general election. Less than 9,800 people voted by mail in the last presidential election four years ago.
The Allen County Republican Party announced it will have a “scaled back” Election Night event starting at 6 p.m. in the Marquis Ballroom of the Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Fort Wayne Hotel & Conference Center at Coldwater and Washington Center roads. Attendance will be limited to GOP precinct committee chairs and vice chairs, candidates and their families, elected officials and news media.
Party Chairman Steve Shine emphasized that the gathering is not public and that no more than 150 people will be allowed inside the ballroom, which can seat 600. Attendees will be requested to wear masks and socially distance, said Shine, who tested positive for the coronavirus Oct. 22 and was in self-quarantine until this weekend.
“The point is to provide a venue for the candidates so that they have the chance to speak to the media,” he said in a telephone interview. Shine urged GOP members and voters to watch election results online at allencountygop.com.
Republicans will have their traditional post-election Coney dog lunch on Wednesday at GOP headquarters in downtown Fort Wayne, but attendance will be limited to 50 people. Participants will be encouraged to wear masks when they are not eating. Those wishing to attend must register by emailing Tom Harris at email@example.com.
Indiana's K-12 leader has announced an agenda for a job she might not have.
School funding would remain Jennifer McCormick's top priority in the upcoming legislative session, followed by inclusivity and reliable internet access, among other issues, she announced last week.
McCormick's stint as state superintendent of public instruction, an elected post, will soon end. The position will become a governor-appointed secretary of education beginning in January.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Woody Myers' pick for the job is McCormick, who describes five core issues in her EducationFIRST platform. But Myers has been trailing Holcomb in all polls.
“Although Indiana is K-12 education policy-heavy, with little regard for implementation monitoring, I remain optimistic that sound education policies, designed with the best interest of students and educators in mind, are possible,” McCormick said in a statement. “EducationFIRST outlines the critical policy actions needed for our state to be successful, regardless of who fills the seat of Indiana's top education leader.”
The second gubernatorial debate encountered the dreaded technical difficulties on Tuesday.
Although all three candidates and the moderator were in the same building, they were shown virtually from different rooms because of COVID-19. At one point, the moderator tried to go to Gov. Eric Holcomb for a rebuttal, but there was no response.
It wasn't clear whether the three candidates could hear the moderator, so the screen went to a stock image while the glitch was fixed – but not before Libertarian Donald Rainwater could be heard saying, “I just figured somebody didn't like my answer.”
No council, so vote
The Fort Wayne City Council will not meet this week in observance of Election Day, and during Tuesday's meeting two members again encouraged residents to make time to vote.
“I voted (Monday) at the Rousseau Centre. It took me all of 10 minutes,” Councilman Glynn Hines, D-at large, said. “I encourage everybody out there to vote and also to mask up (and) social distance.”
Council President Tom Didier, R-3rd, said he voted at Memorial Coliseum before Tuesday's council meeting.
“I've got my little sticker there,” Didier said pointing to his lapel. The councilman also joked about which line he thought was the quickest.
“Go to the far right lane,” Didier said laughing. “We all got to where we were going, but the people in the far right lane managed to get there about 20 minutes sooner than I did.”
Monday is the last day for in-person early voting in Allen County. Voters can go to Memorial Coliseum, 4000 Parnell Ave., between 8 a.m. and noon to cast ballots.
Election Day is Tuesday. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Voters can check their voting location online at www.acimap.us/election.html or by calling Allen County Voter Registration at 260-449-7154. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some voting locations may have changed.
Absentee ballots must be returned to the Allen County Election Board before noon on Election Day.
Ashley Sloboda and Dave Gong of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.
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