Saturday was a milestone for Indiana University student Bayasa Batsaikhan, who’s studying for a masters degree in information systems.
BSB: Is this your first time voting?
Batsaikhan: It actually is.
BSB: First time ever?
Batsaikhan cast her first ballot ever on Saturday at Election Central in downtown Bloomington at 7th and Madison streets, where she stood in line with a couple hundred other people. That meant waiting times as long as an hour and a half to two hours.
On Saturday, 1,150 people voted early in person, bringing the total to 22,062. Just four more hours of early voting are left—on Monday, from 8 a.m. to noon. Tuesday, Nov. 3, is Election Day.
It wasn’t hard to spot Batsaikhan standing in line. She was wearing an inflatable pig costume. “I had to bring Halloween to the voting polls,” she said.
At one point Batsaikhan was low on air, because the small fan that keeps the suit properly puffed up ran low on battery power. “I was deflated. And I ran out of batteries. But then my roommate came and dropped off batteries for me.”
Batsaikhan told The Square Beacon that she was not subjected to any extra COVID-19 disinfection protocols inside the polls. After she finished voting, the poll workers told her, “Bye, piggy!” Batsaikhan added, “I’m happy that I brought some cheer to the inside people who are working so hard.”
Also bringing some electoral cheer to voters who were standing in line were the members of the Voces Novae chamber choir, under the direction of Susan Swaney.
The choir members set up in the north-south alley that splits the block bounded north-south by 7th and 6th streets, and east-west by Madison and Rogers streets. They arranged themselves in a big circle with lots of distance between them.
Among the songs they sang was “Down to the River to Pray.” Some readers might recognize it from the first stanza.
As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol’ way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way
The total of in-person early votes could be projected at around 22,500 based on the remaining four hours of voting. Added to the roughly 13,000 mail-in early ballots that have been received and another couple thousand that could still arrive, the total early vote count looks like it will settle in around 35,000.
If voter turnout this year matches the numbers from 2016, which was the most recent presidential year election, that would mean just shy of 60,000 voters.
Peeling off this year’s early in-person and mail-in numbers from 60,000 would still leave at least 25,000 people voting on Election Day. They would be casting their ballots at one of the 28 polling locations around the county where they are assigned to vote.
On average that would mean every polling site on Election Day would be handling around 890 voters over the 12-hour voting period. That works out to about 74 voters per hour.
But that’s if only the same number of voters turn out this year as last year. It could be a lot more. For every 1,000 additional Monroe County voters who cast a ballot this year, the 28 polling sites will need to handle another three voters per hour.
Voters who are trying to confirm where their polling place is this year have a few different options. One is the state’s election site. Another is the dynamic precinct map that has been set up by the county surveyor’s office.