As we did last election, my wife, Ash, and I chose to take advantage early voting. In 2016, we did so at the Hamilton County Superior Court, where the line snaked around the block in the cold.
Saturday, we, along with our son, Harper, 4, and daughter, Emerald, 1, stopped by Starbucks and then headed to the Carmel Clay Public Library to do our patriotic duty.
It was made clear to us upon entrance by staff the wait was 2 and a half to 3 hours. The line snaked back and forth down the hallway, and had a gap between the main entrance and the stacks. Clearly overworked library employees guided voters to the end of the hundreds-deep line, which ended somewhere between the Music section and the audiobooks.
The wait itself wasn't intolerable. At least it was inside. Keeping our children entertained all this time was our biggest concern, but they were remarkably patient.
However, I observed several people come into the library and just leave when they learned about that wait. Will they return? Who knows? I overheard other people say they had tried to vote multiple times before now, but the wait was just as long and they had to get back to work. Harper and I had been at the library the day before and saw the line be nearly as long.
Once we finally made our way to where we'd actually be voting, the reason for the hold-up was clear. There were only about half a dozen voting machines to service this entire crowd.
When we finally finished voting on the provided MicroVote Infinity machines, there was a big red CAST VOTE BUTTON button with a pair of lights above it illuminated. Once I hit it, I waited for some sort of receipt to show my selections had actually been recorded. There was nothing. Just hope and faith, I suppose. Neighboring counties at least have something tangible, why not this one?
All this was disconcerting to me, but the final insult came when we left. We realized we hadn't been given a sticker. We went back. There were none. We were told to drive to Noblesville where they might have some. It may seem petty, but I was actually bummed out by this. It's such a small thing they could fix. Why not give people something they can show off after voting? Does it have to be such a bore?
I feel extremely lucky to live in a country where we are able to vote at all, much less vote early. And, I applaud the staff and volunteers who gave their time and energy to make sure we were able to participate in democracy. But, if this is the best we can do in the ritzy areas, imagine what it looks like in places that aren't so well off.
And, I still want my sticker.