Polls closed at 6 p.m. in Monroe County, Indiana.
County clerk Nicole Browne has said during the run-up to Election Day this year that results might not be available Tuesday night.
That’s due in part to the fact that mail-in absentee ballots can’t be removed from their envelopes until Election Day. Around 15,000 ballots were sent to voters who requested them. Of those, as of two days ago, close to 14,000 ballots had been sent in.
By way of comparison, for the June 2, primary elections, about 17,500 people voted by mail. That was a number big enough that it pushed local results to the following day.
For the primary election, just seven polling sites were used. For the general election today, voters cast ballots at 28 different polling sites. That’s four times as many reports from polling sites that need to be processed, compared to the primary.
For today’s general election, two races have registered write-in candidates—for county commissioner and for at-large county council. The scanners can tell which ballots had someone’s name written in and they are segregated into a set for review by human eyeballs. But reviewing them one at a time is a necessary step, to ensure that just those write-in votes are counted for the candidates who registered.
The raw number of total ballots is also expected to be greater than in the primary. In 2016, about 60,000 people voted in Monroe County, which was about twice the 27,000 people who voted in this year’s primaries.
The Square Beacon will report whatever information is available from the Monroe County clerk’s office, as soon as it’s available. Some results from other counties across the state might be available on the election results webpage that has been set up by Indiana’s secretary of state.
7:13 p.m. Election Central. The word from county clerk Nicole Browne continues to caution against expecting results tonight. Some of the polling locations, maybe four or five, have already brought in their ballots and gear. Binford Elementary School location is checking in right now.
7:18 p.m. Election Central. Free Methodist, University Elementary, and The Academy are all reporting in right now. Also Harrodsburg Community Center.
7:22 p.m. Election Central. 14 polling locations have reported in so far. I am counting giant blue wheeled luggage bags lined up against the wall to arrive at that figure.
The three-member election board is currently resolving mail-in absentee ballots. The ballots needing resolution are those where stray marks or multiple markings have been flagged by the scanner and need human eyeballs to discern voter intent. Also a part of this process includes counting which the write-in names. Two of the races have registered write-in candidates.
7:28 p.m. Election Central. A giant pile of ballots in cardboard boxes loaded onto a pushcart, requiring two people to push it, just made its way into the ballot room, which is an electronically secured room inside Election Central. It’s quite sophisticated, includes two-factor authentication. The current count of polling locations that have brought their ballots to Election central is 16 out of 28.
Lots of mutual expression of thanks between poll workers and election staff as they report in. “You guys did such an incredible job. Praise is due!” says a poll worker with 30 years of experience.
7:33 p.m. Election Central. Ellettsville Christian Church is reporting in. That location had one of the highest voter totals today, if not the highest, with 1,909 ballots cast. It makes for a heavy load: “I’m not carrying it, I’m dragging it.”
7:42 p.m. Election Central. The current tally is: 22 of 28 polling locations have reported in. Highland Park Elementary is in the check-in queue.
7:44 p.m. Election Central. Noticeably missing compared to the June primary scene are tables of pairs of poll workers opening envelopes with mail-in ballots. That’s done already. (!) The current count of polling locations that have checked in their ballots is 23 out of 28.
7:50 p.m. Election Central. Overheard from poll worker: “That new poll book is superb!” Family Worship Center is currently checking in. “Are we the last ones?” No, they are not. Unionville Elementary is behind them. There might be a couple more to go. No, it’s just one. It looks like the Universal Unitarian Church location is the only poll location yet to report in. That location handled voters from six different precincts.
7:58 p.m. Election Central. Travel board voters totalled about 50 this year.
8:19 p.m. Election Central. Phone call made to Universal Unitarian Church to see what’s up. They’re enroute.
8:23 p.m. Election Central. Universal Unitarian Church is reporting in. That’s the last of the polling locations to check in. The mail-in ballots are all resolved and reconciled. Probability of getting results yet tonight now seems nonzero. But official word is still: Do not expect results tonight. Accuracy over speed is the motto.
8:46 p.m. Election Central. Election board is resolving write-in names. They come up on-screen and they get categorized accordingly with a click of the mouse. There’s the usual range of “Mickey Mouse” and “Donald Duck” votes. Also “Duke, the Wonder Horse.” Some are non-specific: “anyone else,” “any conservative,” and “any non-Democrat.” A new one this year (apparently): “any random hooker.”
9:19 p.m. Election Central. Election board is still slogging away through the write-in names. “Kid Rock,” and “Alice Cooper” are more examples that have to be clicked as “rejected” The strategy looks like it will be to release results when they’re all done, not incrementally in dribs and drabs in different categories. It’s still not decided if that will be yet tonight or tomorrow.
9:46 p.m. Election Central. Write-ins for county council and county commissioner now resolved. Now comes handling presidential candidate write-ins. The Hart InterCivic consultant (that’s the voting hardware and software vendor) is here in person to help out. We’re down to three election board members, Hart InterCivic consultant and the county election supervisor. It’s still enough to field a basketball team. “Can you shoot the three?” is The Square Beacon’s hard-hitting question for election board member Carolyn VandeWiele. Yes, she says. She played high school and college ball.
9:58 p.m Election Central. The election board is slogging through the presidential write-in candidates. The “Eugene V. Debs/Upton Sinclair” ticket is marked as “rejected.” There are close to 400 of these that have to be manually checked against a list of a dozen and a half. It’s way slower than the county council and county commissioner races, each of which had just one registered write-in.
Why isn’t the election board releasing incremental totals? Election board says that would be more time consuming in the long run and creates more chance for errors that need to be corrected.
10:11 p.m. Election Central. There are about 130 more presidential write-in candidates that have to be manually coded as accepted or rejected by the three-member election board. The sound of a mouse clicking those codes, the whir of fans in computers, and The Square Beacon’s keyboard taps are the only sounds in Election Central right now. The silence is broken when Nicole Browne, county clerk reads aloud a write-in name: “Reggie Miller.” Carolyn VandeWiele adds, “Number 31.” Silence falls again on the three board members. Clicking continues. [Reggie Miller nearly perfected the art of throwing a leather ball through an iron hoop, which qualifies him as presidential material in the Hoosier state.]
10:29 p.m. Election Central. Election board is now reviewing all the write-in candidate assignments just to make sure they are correct. Hart InterCivic consultant says the next edition of the software will have a way of displaying lots of write-in images on a screen, which the operator can then select and then apply the same code to all selected images. This would make for way less tedium.
10:35 p.m. Election Central. “We’re getting there,” says election board member Carolyn VandeWiele. She fuiond 3 mistakes out of 1,400 ballots. The probability of getting final results for Monroe County tonight is increased by presence of Hart InterCivic consultant.
10:59 p.m. Results [Canvas Report] This requires arithmetic to get results. This is the first one to get released. Other result reports are supposed to be forthcoming.
11:05 p.m. Results [Cumulative Results]
MCCSC school board winners: Hennessey, Fuentes-Rohwer, Klein, Townsend-Gides.
Monroe County circuit court winners: Krothe, Haughton, Bradley.
Monroe County council winners: Deckard, McKim, Munson.
11:13 p.m. Results [Results by Precinct]
Total votes were 63,624. In 2016 there were 59,847 voters. That’s 3,777 more this year than four years ago, or 6.3 percent more.
Note: The Latin in the headline means something like “the die is cast.” Julius Caesar is supposed to have said it when he led his army across the Rubicon river in Northern Italy. The idea is that the things that just happened can’t be undone. It was a tradition of local Ann Arbor attorney David Cahill to post the phrase to local online outlets exactly when polls closed in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It’s a good tradition, one which The Square Beacon transplants to Bloomington without apology.