Hourslong lines at newly opened voting centers in Marion County

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Early voters in Marion County were met with hourslong waits Saturday as five additional early voting locations opened.

News 8 heard from several people who waited seven hours or longer to cast their votes around the county. The last voter made it inside St. Luke’s United Methodist Church at 9:45 pm.

“I have been in line since 10 o’clock this morning,” said voter Shea Phinispe.

Both Amari Jones and Brigitte Brase are first time voters and said, “We’ve been here for 5-6 hours, forever!

I was thinking ‘Oh my God it’s gonna be a while’, but it’s gonna be well worth it,” voter LaShawn Richardson said.

The five places that opened up Saturday, along with the City-County Building downtown, will be open for the next two weekends from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Each location will also have extended hours on weekdays next week.

“I think by everyone coming together and pitching in, it’s encouraging. Some people may have some health conditions or they may get a little thirsty. So I think it’s a good thing. We’re all coming together, just being supportive of one another,” said Richardson.

Many voters in Lawrence went to the polls prepared. “Our parents swung by earlier this morning and said that the line was so long that people had chairs and so that’s where we got the idea to bring chairs,” voter Erica Hedges. “I brought gloves, snacks, drinks, a blanket just in case,” added voter Lauren Hedges.

Voter Arvery Bush said, “My parents raised me to vote and when I turned 18 they made sure I got to vote and when my children turn 18 I’ll make sure they’re registered to vote. It’s very important to us.”

Some voters waited up to seven hours at The Krannert Park Community Center on the west side, even for those who came before the polls opened at 10 am. Many people kept themselves occupied.

“I ordered a pizza. The guys behind me actually have the box. I was able to share it with a few people in line. We were all able to not faint after being out here in some cold winds, some hot sun and just overall tired,” voter Melissa Urqhart said.

“People are doing everything!” voter Isra Haider said. Bilal Jawed added, “There’s some karaoke going on, people playing games, some people are sleeping, some people are playing football, it’s fun.”

Voter Leslie Harding-Morris told News 8 she can’t understand why it’s taken her more than seven hours to vote at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. She described it as voter suppression.

“They said that they had 19 machines, but we have come too far in the United States to have to deal with this,” Harding-Morris mentioned.

Many hope the poll workers can move faster in the coming days.

“We clearly have more people than the other counties and if there’s a lot more we can do to make sure that everyone can vote without going through this hassle,” voter Isra Haider said. “Not everyone has the privilege to stand in line for six to seven hours.”

Spokesperson for the Marion County Board of Elections Russell Hollis said there were more than 8,000 voters on Saturday and called it a record. Hollis said the exact number will be available on Sunday. He also mentioned it’s unusual for voters to wait longer than three hours to vote. Hollis said he doesn’t recall any of the machines being down, specifically at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and added that the poll workers could’ve been overwhelmed with the voter turn out. All polling locations should have 20 voter machines available.

Across the state, more people have now cast their votes early in this election than in 2016.

The five satellite voting locations that opened Saturday are:

  • On the south side at the Perry Township Government Center at 4925 Shelby St..
  • On the west side at the Krannert Park Community Center at 605 S. High School Road.
  • On the north side at St Luke’s United Methodist Church at 100 W. 86th St.
  • Two on the east side at the Lawrence Township Schools’ administration building at 6501 Sunnyside Road and at the Warren Township Government Center at 501 N. Post Road.