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Ballot counters essential to releasing results within 24 hours, county says

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It can be hard to avoid a few paper cuts when you’re part of a canvassing staff, counting more than 22 thousand mail-in ballots while also trying to make a few extra bucks in a pandemic.

“They said they’ve never had this many ballots come in through the mail,” paid volunteer counter Jarrett Bickel said.
“When we got here they said (there were) something like 20 thousand ballots we had to check. So all of us as a group you know, we worked really well together and we were able to get them done.”

Bickel was one of the near-200 central count canvassers credited with getting the ballots eventually filed so all results could be released to the public, despite dealing with the record number of absentee paper ballots.

He joined his mom to go count ballots in the county for the first time Wednesday.

“It is a cool bond, you know? Because he doesn’t live with me so it’s a time we can bond together, for eight or ten hours depending on the day, so yeah it’s a good experience for us,” mother Megan Bickel said.

Overseeing the process inside the St. Joseph County-City Building was the county’s Election Board Chair Catherine Fanello, who touts unrestricted voting areas and advice from the health department as contributing factors to keeping Primary operations organized, all despite the coronavirus.

“With the parties being fully on board and recruiting workers, everybody who had a role in this was working very hard to make sure it went all successful,” Fanello said.
“And we had no major issues yesterday, so by that, I would say you know, we did pretty good.”

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