Late night for the Marion County election board

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Polls closed in Indianapolis at 6 p.m. on Tuesday but people were still voting at several locations around the county at 8.pm due to long lines.

Election night was going to be a long night at the Marion County Board of Elections. More than 120,000 voters requested absentee ballots, counting those ballots is extremely time consuming.

The last person to vote at the downtown polling location was Tesha Simms. When News 8 caught up with her, she had been in line just over 30 minutes. With the change in polling locations, she almost didn’t make it .

“I work on the east side, live on the north side” said Simms

Simms and her newfound voting friend Natasha Rankin brought up the end of the line,

“It is a lot slower than I expected, to be honest,” said Rankin

Rankin is a former Britsh citizen voting in her first presidential primary. Once these two made it into the room to vote the process took about 10 minutes.

From start to finish, the entire voting process, including standing in line, took them about an hour.

Marion County consolidated polling locations, so the long lines don’t tell the whole story, according to Brienne Delaney, director of Marion County Board of Elections.

“The crowds look longer because we had less voting locations than usual. I think we are at about our count right now, is about 20% turnout and we expect it to go up as we process the absentee ballots,” said Delaney

Absentee ballots, the bane of the democratic process and Marion county is expected to count a record number of absentee ballots this year. And counting these ballots is extremely time consuming.

“The envelopes are open, the ballots are pulled out by hand, the signatures are compared and reviewed by hand by a bipartisan team,” said Delaney

Before the ballot signature can be compared, election workers have to go through huge stacks of absentee ballot applications and find the matching application at that point the ballot is ready to be counted.

It could be Thursday or later before all the ballots are counted

“We will know tomorrow whether we need to count Thursday,” said Delaney

Another kink in the process is the social distancing requirement, the election board has limited space and only so many people can count ballots, plus they are shorthanded. For close local races, the final results could be in as late as Thursday.