[Editor's note: Need a ride to the polls or other information? Go to govoteindy.com.  Need information on waiting times at polls? Go to  indyvotingtimes.org]

On Saturday, October 24, the day after a federal appeals court upheld a law exclusive to the Hoosier State that prohibits voters from asking county judges to prolong voting hours beyond 6 p.m. because of Election Day problems, I voted at the Mercy Road Church at 2381 Pointe Parkway in Carmel.

I walked right through the front door, no line, and walked right up to the check-in desks, protected by clear plastic. I was checked in by a high school-aged boy, who verified my ID against my information which he called upon a computer monitor. I was directed to wait at a taped off piece of the floor until the next voting booth became available. Which took less than a minute.

I wasn’t inside the polling location for more than 10 minutes altogether. 

I recount this experience with some embarrassment, as I know some of my friends will have to wait for hours in line elsewhere. But it made me think that it might be of interest to readers to crowdsource the experiences of voters, especially those who had to stand in line for hours to exercise their right to the franchise. So I put out two requests for voters to recount their experiences over Facebook on Oct. 26. 

I received twenty responses, many of which came from people who had to wait downtown at the Indianapolis City-County Building. (Some of these people have previously appeared in NUVO, as you'll see.) I was pleased with both the variety of stories and the seeming eagerness of voters to recount them. I think it makes for interesting reading. For those curious about exact line wait times, however, you may want to supplement this article by clicking on the indyvotingtimes.org website.  

I thank everyone who sent in responses, which I list below in alphabetical order by last name.

Wendy Becher:

This likely will not apply to your article, however, for those wondering about mail-in ballots, our experience was easy peasy. We handed our mail-in ballots directly to the voter registration office on the morning of 16 September. By late that afternoon, our ballots were recorded as received.

I was a poll judge from '02 through '18. Sadly, I retired this year. We help care for my in-laws, both health-compromised, and I could not run the risk of infecting them.

Truth be told, working on election day was always one of the most rewarding experiences of my adult life. Watching people show up to exercise their right to vote, and to peacefully participate in their civic duty to this Democratic Republic was an honor. I hope to be able to serve again in the future.

Please, everyone, vote. We need your voice and yours ... and yours.

Pamela Bliss:

I’m painting a mural a block away from the City-County Building so get to see the voting station line every day. I am impressed with the turnout which the line has been wrapped around the building, from early in the morning until evening, even on this 20th day of early voting. I was worried about how long it would take me. But I went this morning and I only had to stand in that extremely long line for two hours. Not bad compared to some others I’ve been hearing about. Nice inside, it was efficient and I appreciated the secure process.

Rob Burgess:

Before the primary election this year, my wife, Ash, and I both signed up for absentee ballots at the exact same time before the deadline. Her's arrived a few days before election day. Mine never showed up. 

I went through the same process this time as early as I could. Fortunately, they both arrived in plenty of time.

Not wanting to leave anything to chance, we completed these, and I hand-delivered them Friday, Oct. 16 to the Hamilton County Government and Judicial Center. There was a huge line snaking all the way down the block outside the building of early voters waiting to get in the building, just so they could stand in another line once they were summoned through the doors. I was able to skip the line and hand in our ballots with the woman behind a folding desk near the front. Since I was turning both my ballot in and my wife's ballot, I had to sign an additional form. I tried to make my signature on both the ballot and the form match my admittedly messy signature on my driver's license.

Overall, I was pleased with the experience this time. (They even had stickers for once.) I have no idea why the state is so stubborn about not including generalized fear of COVID-19 infection as reason enough to request an absentee ballot. In so many ways, Indiana makes it as hard as possible to successfully vote.

Rhonda Clark:

We voted on Thursday 10/25 4 pm-ish 30 minutes at Hancock County Public Library. No issues. Easy peasy. Everyone wearing masks, distancing, and workers wiping everything down.

Regina Cohen:

I went to vote at the Lawrence early voting satellite location on Saturday, Oct. 24th. I know, the first day: I must be crazy.  

Well, I got there at 9:30 AM. Polls opened at 10 AM.  It was chilly but mostly pleasant.  Everyone seemed in a pretty good mood.

The woman ahead of me was also named Regina — what are the odds?  She and her husband lived within walking distance-which was good because they both drank HUGE coffees and she had to pee and so she ran home to pee and still had plenty of time.

 Some people ahead of us got on some voting times websites and said it would be about 4.5 hours.  I didn't have much else to do that day so I stayed. A few people around us left. There was a young woman on crutches who had to make a flight so she left.  

I had the SiriusXM app on my phone and listened to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" and "Ask Me Another" and that was two hours. I read one of Steve Martin's books of short stories-that was another hour. I people-watched for another hour or so. Then we got close to the building and there were some wonderful people handing out water and snacks. I had a granola bar.  

We talked about voter suppression — how Marion County has 1,000,000 residents, and how, until that day, ONE satellite early voting site.  UGH! This is why we vote!

Then we got inside the building.  About 60 minutes left ...  I saw a couple with an adorable toddler. She was singing "Three Blind Mice." "Fwee Bwin Mie" still makes more sense than Trump!

Anyway, I got into the "Room Where it Happens" and a friend had asked me to count the number of polling "booths" as she was thinking of coming by to get in line.  I started counting and a poll worker irately asked me what I was doing.  "Counting the polling booths," I replied.

"WHY?"

"A friend asked me to.  She may come by later to vote."

"WHY DO YOU NEED TO DO THAT FOR?"

"Well, can you tell me?"

"UGH."

"Do you know how many machines you have in this room?"

"YES."

"Can you tell me?"

"About 22"

"Thank you!"

Then I voted. You have to put your ballot in the machine, then vote, then the machine spits it back out, then you take your ballot and the envelope they give you to the checkout station, where they look at the ballot, THEN you put the ballot in the envelope (if you put the ballot in the envelope before they look at it, they yell at you), then you sign it, then one poll worker signs it, then the another poll worker signs it, THEN you take the envelope and place it in the ballot box.

SO CUMBERSOME!

4.25 hours from start to finish.

Why don't we have fancy machines that just record your vote?

 I just moved from Hamilton County in February of this year and they make it so easy!  This is insane!

Madi Crist:

I voted at the City-County Building in downtown Indy on a weekday morning, and the whole process (from getting in line to leaving the building with my I Voted sticker) took about an hour. Almost everyone I saw in line had masks on and were trying to socially distance. The line and voting process inside went very smoothly, I didn't experience any issues!

Tyler DeKemper:

Waited about two hours downtown yesterday.

Matt Conrad:

I cast my ballot at the City-County Building on the second day of early voting. The wait was about 40 minutes. Everyone was masked up, distanced, and in good spirits. Given the circumstances, it was a good experience.

Brian Deiwert:

Voted this Sunday at the Lawrence township administration building. Got into line at 10:05 a.m. just five minutes after opening and the line was already 3/4 the way around the building. Dressed in multiple layers as I knew the temps were in the mid-40s, windy, with no warming sun. I had a phone full of podcasts to listen to. They kept my brain stimulated and the headphones kept my ears warm. I wish I brought a tailgating chair, but my hiking shoes were comfy so I leaned on a wall sometimes or sat on a planter to get off my feet a little bit. A friend was at St. Luke's for over eight hours the day before so I made sure I consumed no liquids during breakfast so I could avoid any restroom needs. I would occasionally post something on FB to document the journey. I admired the man and daughter that walked past our line giving out free Hostess treats from a box. At 2 hours and 49 minutes, I finally got inside the building and enjoyed the warmth. The line snaked through a hallway and I finally voted. After 3 hours and 24 minutes my vote was sealed, dropped off in a box, and I exited the building. I suspect the people who are thankful for mail-in voting that requires an excuse instead of no excuse mail-in voting approaches zero.

Tony Firulli:

One hour 29 minutes and 29 seconds according to the stopwatch. City-County Building last week.

Cecilia Hiland:

Former NUVO employee writing in to tell you about my early voting experience.

I arrived at St. Luke's at around 10:00 am on Saturday morning. The polls were scheduled to open at 10:00. The crowd wound through the parking lot and down a side street next to the church. I've never seen anything like it. After waiting over 4 hours, I learned that there were still 700 people in front of me. At the rate that the line was moving, that would have been another 3.5+ hours. I decided to bail at that point.

Sunday morning was dark and cloudy, but I slapped a lucky RBG sticker on my car, grabbed a chair, and some earbuds, and tried again. This time I arrived a bit after 9:00 am, and was able to vote in about 3 hours.

The crowd was diverse, and overall in good spirits. I only spotted three people who would not wear masks.

While waiting a total of seven plus hours in line to cast my vote, I had plenty of time to check out what was going on with my friends on Facebook. The longest I saw friends waiting outside of Marion county was 45 minutes. Many were zipping through in 15, 10 or even three minutes.  I know Marion county is very large compared to our neighbors. It's also one of the diverse in the state, and it was difficult not to feel suppression. 

I personally think it was ridiculous that we were forced to wait in line for such a long time during a pandemic. As some people pointed out, I didn't have to vote early, but I wanted to vote when I was healthy and didn't want to risk being quarantined on election day. Even if my vote was largely symbolic, I couldn't risk missing the opportunity to vote in this ever-important election. 

Thank you for letting me vent!

Stirling Matheson

I didn't talk to anyone, but I waited about an hour at the Hamilton county courthouse on the second day of early voting.

Savannah Montoya:

My friend and I voted yesterday after waiting in line at Krannert Park for about an hour and 15 minutes. We meant to go Saturday but the wait was much too long.

Local candidates for school board and state representative talked with those of us in line. Most everyone wore a mask even when we were outside. The man behind us was stoic and didn’t speak. The daughter in the family in front of us was very friendly and agreed with our little comments. There were plenty of machines inside the gym. There was one check-in desk. In my past experience, there has been more but that was on Election Day. There was one check out desk as well.

At check-in, they scanned our IDs and had us confirm the addresses. They printed blank ballots and sent us to the voting machines. Once there, we had to insert the blank ballot and make selections on the screen. After we finished, our choices were printed on the ballots. At checkout, they had us fold the ballot in half for privacy, seal it in the envelope, sign it, and then both checkout workers signed them and gave them back to us. We inserted the envelopes into a bin and were on our way through a separate exit path.

I suggest bringing a pen.

Anuja Vichare Petruniw:

My husband and I voted at the City-County on Tuesday, October 13. Was in line at 8:15 a.m. and took about an hour and 40 minutes. Very pleasant experience. Social distancing and masks were great. Live music kept us entertained. Once we were in, it was a very quick process.

Susan Phillips:

I voted Friday at the Jill Perelman Pavilion at West Park in Carmel. It only took 45 minutes. I didn’t talk to anyone. People were wearing masks and social distancing. Everything went smoothly and there were no problems.

Amanda Rutherford:

Two hours downtown Sunday, grateful it was only two hours. Chatted with the woman in front of me about our parents voting in more rural areas and basically walking right in.

Will Sears-Watson:

I intentionally picked last Tuesday morning to go downtown to vote because it was a murky, chilly morning and I figured the lines would be shorter. I went for a run on the canal, and as soon as the polls opened, went and got in line.  I was in and out in forty minutes.  I was appreciative that from time to time, a poll worker would come out and grab women with babies, people with canes and other people with obvious mobility issues.

While in line, I did more listening than talking, and pretty much learned that either no one in earshot was voting for Trump, or that anyone planning on voting for Trump was keeping quiet about it  From experience, I find this unlikely.  Once inside, I was really struck by how friendly, helpful and kind every single person working the polls were.  All in all, a very positive experience, and I'm very thankful I voted early.

Michael Sheldon:

I waited four hours at St Luke’s yesterday. I felt a good vibe about everyone I was voting with. Very respectful and followed social distancing rules. They had a man passing out bread, and food trucks and people coming by with candy and water. The woman behind me and I became friends because she didn't like standing in lines so I was trying to keep the conversation going to help distract her. Overall, I was disappointed by how the wait time was but was impressed with the voter turnout and the diversity that was shown, also how St Luke’s made it work.

Matt Stone:

Hamilton County Courthouse had a drop off place for absentee mail ballots pre-security. My wife had to go through security to do early in-person voting. She was in and out in about 10 minutes.

 

 

 

Managing Editor

Having lived and worked in Indy on and off since 1977, and currently living in Carmel, I've seen the city change a great deal. I love covering the arts in all its forms, and the places where the arts and broader cultural issues intersect.