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Ballot Confusion In Northwest Indiana; 'I Assume My Vote Is Counted. I Hope'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- There is Campaign 2020 confusion over mail-in ballots in Indiana.

CBS 2's Steven Graves found out even those in charge didn't know the rules.

For Rachel Branagan, standing in line to vote early at the Munster, Indiana town hall wasn't the original plan.

"I just thought, ya know, I can early vote. I'm feeling more comfortable now to early vote," Branagan said. "I'm feeling more comfortable with things."

So she went last week in person, absentee ballot in hand.

"While I was in line, I said 'is this OK? Can I turn this in and vote in person?' And the woman in line was very nice, she said, 'Yes, no problem,'" remembered Branagan.

Everything was good until recently when she heard about others who tried to do the same, but were turned away.

"I'm assuming my vote is counted. I hope. I just don't know why they changed their mind," Branagan said.

"There should be no problem with her vote."

That's according to Lake County Election Board Director Michelle Fajman. But...

"If you have an absentee ballot, and you simply changed your mind, you cannot forfeit it at an early voting site."

That was a change in tune Friday because of what the office calls miscommunication on their end. After Lake County Hoosiers got documentation with a different message. Instructions on the absentee ballot say clearly that a voter can decide to vote in person and return their unused ballot to a voting site.

"The law was not completely clear, as in regards to before Election Day or after Election Day. It was more of an interpretation. We received a letter from the state," Fajman said.

The letter, officials said, clarifies the rule that across the state is that only lost, spoiled or defective absentee ballots can be an excuse to vote in person before Election Day. The election director said confusion lasted for a short period of time and now all 11 early voting Lake County sites should be on the same page.

In Illinois, there are no absentee ballots because anyone can vote by mail. But if you decide you want to vote in person, you can bring your unused mail-in ballot to a polling place and turn it in.

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