Early in-person voting continues Saturday in Monroe County, pace so far around 100 voters per hour

Friday set another daily high for early in-person voters in Monroe County: 1,114. That eclipsed by a half dozen voters the previous high of 1,108, which was set on Thursday.

Through the first 14 days of early voting, the total of early voters stands at 14,142.

Remaining days to vote in person include this Saturday (Oct. 24), weekdays the following week, next Saturday (Oct. 31) and the final Monday before Election Day.

Election Central, where early in-person voting takes place, is at 7th and Madison streets in downtown Bloomington—the old Johnson Hardware building.

The voting totals on Saturday are almost certain to be lower than the average of about 1,000 per day that have been tallied through the first 14 days. That’s because Saturday voting hours are shorter—seven hours compared to 10 on weekdays. (For voting times and days, check Monroe County’s Election Central website.)

If the same pace of voting is maintained on Saturday, about 700 people will make their way through the line by the end of the day, which has generally wrapped at least halfway around the block.

At Friday afternoon’s weekly press conference on COVID-19 pandemic response, president of the county commissioners, Julie Thomas, said, “I personally waited an hour and 45 minutes to vote and it was worth every moment.” She added, “Everyone in line was wearing a mask, we were standing six feet apart. So it was really heartening to see that and we really appreciate the voters for doing that.”

The only early voting location in Monroe County is at 7th and Madison streets in downtown Bloomington.

One of the limiting factors for moving people through the voting queue is the printer that generates each voter’s ballot.

Based on discussion among county board of election members at their regular Tuesday work session, the reason for a long line should not be the time it’s taking individual voters to fill in their ballots

If someone were taking a long time to study their ballot, holding up the line, election workers could invoke an arcane point of state election law. The law that says that time in the voting booth is limited to two minutes for general elections. For primary elections the time limit is three minutes.

Election board member Carolyn VandeWiele said it’s helpful if people come prepared to vote, so that they don’t wind up “puzzling over the ballot.” She pointed out it moves the line faster and also minimizes the time for potential mutual spread of the COVID-19 virus between a voter and election workers.

VandeWiele said, “If you know who you’re going to vote for, that ballot shouldn’t take you more than a couple of minutes to fill out.”

At the county election board’s Tuesday work session, board members also touched on the topic of a recent reversal of a lower federal court decision affecting elections in the state of Indiana. The lower court’s ruling would have allowed mail-in ballots to be counted for several days after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision.

That means mail-in ballots have to be received by the clerk’s office by noon on Election Day. They can be hand-delivered to Election Central—there is no drop box.