Voter turnout strong across Indianapolis Patriotic colors abounded in Election Day’s grey weather as fire engines and an ambulance idled outside of Indianapolis Fire Department Station No. 18 on West Washington Street — allowing voters to use the space inside. Poll workers at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center (from left) Jennifer Stokes, Patricia Scott and A’Esha McGowan explain the ballot to voters. Mattie Denkins approached the low rumble in the morning drizzle, passing by political signs pushed into the wet ground. She paused outside of the polling station entrance. “I’ve got my voting socks on today,” she said, showing those around her white socks with blue and red thread star accents.
“We’ve had about 50-55 votes on each machine so far,” Drenda Martin said at 11:30 a.m. Martin, who worked the polls at Station No. 18 for 10 years, said she had seen more first-time voters than ever come through the door.
Standing beside Martin, Tanya Dullen, mother of two daughters who were also working at the polls in different locations, said, “One of my daughters called and said, ‘We are swamped.’”
Voter turnout appeared much higher than usual across the Indianapolis area, according to first-hand observations at several polling places. Suburban voters reported the longest lines early this morning as nearly 200 people waited to vote by 6:10 a.m. at a Westfield church. Similarly, voters in Pittsboro waited 45 minutes to cast their ballots at 7 a.m.
Lines were less common inside city limits throughout the early parts of the day, but turnout was still unusually strong. At the Center Township poll at the Salvation Army on Washington Street, workers reported a big boost in votes with nearly 100 recorded by 9 a.m. That total, workers said, is usual for an entire day at their location.
Observers noticed a few cases of registration confusion, but nothing major and no evidence of voters removed from the rolls because they were believed dead. Poll workers at several locations were consistent with their methods. None required identification or voter registration cards.
At the Martin Luther King Jr. Center at 40th and Meridian streets, the rain increased, knocking over signs. Democratic Party volunteer Lucille Bardwell stood at the entrance, greeting damp people and showing them where to go. “This is my first time volunteering,” she said. “I got tired of sitting around the house,” said Bardwell, who handed out fliers for state Rep. David Orentlicher.
According to Jennifer Stokes and A’Esha McGowan, poll workers at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, over 100 people had voted before 10 a.m. “Before 7 this morning, we had three younger voters who were very excited to cast their first ballots,” Stokes said. In the minutes before lunch, the total number surpassed 200.
One of the issues confronting poll workers this year, in addition to more voters, is the question, “What to do with voters who do not read or speak English, or who are blind?” Stokes mentioned that a blind voter was coming to her polling place and they would need to improvise a way to accommodate the voter’s needs.