Big crowds lead to long lines for early voting in Hamilton County
Carmel resident Doug Zipes was determined to beat the crowd when it came to voting. He didn’t want to wait until Election Day to cast his ballot and stand in a long line, so he decided to show up before the polls opened to vote early in Carmel.
He was there 15 minutes early Oct. 19 at the Carmel Clay Public Library and still ended up waiting for more than an hour.
“I was here to beat the lines, and see how that happened?” he said.
On that first day of early voting in Carmel, there were approximately 200 people waiting in line to cast their ballots, and some waited two hours to vote. That day, the delay was because of a technical problem, but almost every day since there have been big crowds showing up to vote in Carmel and Fishers, and many people have reported wait times of an hour or more.
Hamilton County elections administrator Kathy Richardson said the long lines are a result of a huge turnout for early voting, more than double from the last presidential election.
As of Oct. 25, there have been 14,060 walk-in early voters in Hamilton County. That doesn’t include absentee ballots. Richardson said there were 6,167 in 2012 and 4,058 in 2008.
“We’ve had an overwhelming response,” she said.
There are six voting machines at locations in Carmel and Fishers. Richardson said they can process approximately 100 voters each hour at both locations. The early voting in Carmel is held at the Carmel Public Library, 55 Fourth Ave. S.E., while Fishers is at City hall, 1 Municipal Dr.
Early voting hours will continue each day until Election Day, and residents can also vote at the Hamilton County Government and Judicial Center in Noblesville, which typically has a much shorter line because it has more machines.
“If the line is too long, you can go vote in Noblesville, vote absentee by mail before Oct. 31, or you can vote on Election Day,” she said. “But every day it’s going to get busier as we get closer to the election. We leased extra machines, but this is a huge response.”
Richardson said overall turnout should be higher because of an increase in county population, but she said the percentage of registered voters who show up to the polls could be about the same as previous years. She said it’s inevitable that the percentage of overall voters who decided to vote early will be higher compared to 2012 and 2008.
Voters in Carmel gave different reasons for choosing to vote early. Some people said they would be out of town on Election Day or be having surgery, so early voting was convenient for them.
Michelle Goldman, a Carmel resident, said there’s no chance she’ll change her vote before Election Day, so she just wanted to vote early.
“I just wanted it over with,” she said. “I’m so sick of this election.”