First day of early voting brings long lines in Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS — Long lines are the big story from Indiana’s first day of early voting.

We’ve been getting pictures and videos of voters standing outside for hours to make sure their voices are heard this election.

At the City-County Building in downtown Indianapolis, the line was wrapped around the block. It took many voters longer than three hours to cast their ballots early. There were some people who took it upon themselves to make the wait more enjoyable.

“Need some water?” asked Terica Marie. “Me and my father are going around passing out waters and chips to help people get through this long day of voting.”

“What would be the maximum amount of time you would be willing to wait to cast your ballot today?” asked reporter Kayla Sullivan to Marion County Voter Robert Plank.

“All day, absolutely,” said Plank. “I’d be here until 5 or 6 o’clock at night if I had to be.”

Plank ended up standing in line for more than three hours to vote Tuesday. He said he felt safe from COVID-19 overall.

“People have gotten a little bit closer than I would have liked but we are outside so we should be fine,” said Plank.

“Just about everybody is wearing a mask,” added Common Cause Indiana Policy Director Julia Vaughn. “In fact, I don’t see anybody who is without a mask down here.”

Inside, voters were given finger covers to protect from the spread of COVID-19 and glass barriers between them and the workers.

Masks are mandatory while voting and signs made that known throughout the polling center.

Workers sanitized the voting area between voters.

Long lines weren’t limited to Marion County. Voters reported similar experiences throughout the state.

“A real reflection of just the high level of anxiety that voters are having about this election,” said Vaughn. “They’ve heard so many pieces of misinformation and disinformation about voting by mail.”

“Do you think there’s any danger in voting early? asked reporter Kayla Sullivan “If something were to change your mind, an ‘October surprise’ of some kind?”

“Nothing is going to change my mind,” said Plank.

Vaughn said voting early can helpful because if you experience any issues voting— you have time to get it resolved before it is too late.

If you have trouble, there’s a hotline you can call.

“If anyone has any problems casting their ballot early, call the election protection hotline 866-OUR-VOTE,” said Vaughn.

Parking was an issue at the City-County Building Tuesday. Marion County voter Rhonda Mullen said she was worried about it the whole time she waited in line.

“Now I’m facing getting a ticket on my car or do I want to vote?” said Mullen. “So, I’m going to stand here and vote and pray I don’t get a ticket.”

She said some people left due to fears of getting a ticket.

In response to questions about parking for early voters, Indianapolis DPW said, “We waived parking fees and had spaces bagged for voting on Delaware Street and reserved Blue Indy spots for voting. And we put the concrete barriers out as ped corridors across Delaware & Alabama at the request of the Election Board. Tonight, we are delivering bike rack and cones for the MCSO to help secure Lugar Plaza for the voting line.”

We asked if there were plans to add more spots for voters at that location, DPW would be looking to hear from the Marion County Clerk’s Office or the Election Board before implementing any changes.

Eventually in Marion County, voters will be able to check early voting locations and see how long the lines are online.

Common Cause Indiana is helping with this project and said more volunteers are needed.

“Not everybody has that luxury to wait in line for hours, so we’re pleased to be part of this project, Indiana Tech for Progress wanted to find a way to use technology to make voting more convenient for voters here in Marion County,” said Vaughn. “That will start on October 24 when the five other satellite locations open here in Marion County and hopefully it can be expanded.”

We will share more information about this website once it is up and running.

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