Indiana counties set records on 1st day of early voting

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Long lines were the story of the day on the first day of early voting.

Clerks in Hamilton, Johnson and Marion counties told News 8 that they’ve set a record for the first day of early voting.

Hamilton County north of Indianapolis saw 2,106 voters at two locations compared to 898 voters in October 2016.

Johnson County south of Indianapolis had 834 voters.

Marion County, which includes Indianapolis, recorded roughly 1,240 voters, about 300 more than the previous record that was also set during the 2016 election.

The last one to cast his ballot at the City-County Building was Arthur Wickware, getting in line just before 5 p.m. Still, he had a 30-minute wait. “I’ve been used to walking in and walking out, but things change.”

Five people in front of Wickware, Steve Igleski took an early lunch to make it happen.

“I pretty much always come on Day 1, but it’s never been like this before,” Igleski said. “I was in the Army for six years, never seen a line like this.”

Five in front of Steve was Crispus Attucks teacher John Hague, giving a life lesson after talking with his students about it earlier in the day.

“I want to demonstrate why it’s important by doing it myself,” Hague said.

The line toward the end of the day was just to the corner of Washington Street from the entrance to the City-County Building, nothing like it was through much of Tuesday morning when it wrapped almost around the building.

Russell Hollis, deputy director of the county clerk’s office, said election officials adjusted midday to cut down on two chokepoints inside: the electronic poll books needed to sign in, and the staff required to sign out.

The pandemic has slowed down the process.

“That did contribute to longer lines because people were spaced further apart,” Hollis said. “We were cleaning voting equipment in between uses.”

But other than a longer wait than expected, no other issues reported in Marion County.

As for what Wednesday holds, even longtime officials aren’t sure.

“With much of 2020, it’s impossible to predict. We’ll see what tomorrow brings,” Hollis said.

If Wednesday brings more long lines and breaks another record, don’t expect it to deter voters like Wickware and Hague.

“Yes, it’s worth waiting for,” Wickware said.

“Absolutely, I think it’s important, worth waiting for,” added Hague.

Polls reopen at the City-County Building at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Hollis reminds voters if the long wait or the large crowd are a deterrent, remember there are still 27 more days to vote with more early voting locations opening up later this month with extended hours, too.

Just like Election Day, as long as you’re in line before polls close for the day, you will be able to vote no matter how late it is.

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