Monroe County 2020 Election Day: Polls are OPEN

Arlington Elementary School in Bloomington, Indiana around 5:45 a.m. before polls opened on Election Day 2020. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

Around 5:45 a.m. maybe a dozen people were standing in line at Arlington Elementary School, waiting to cast their ballots in the 2020 general election. By the time the clock ticked to 6 a.m. the number had grown to over 60. That’s when the precinct inspector emerged to declare “The polls are now open!

For the next 12 hours, the residents of Monroe County, Indiana will be voting. The Square Beacon will try to file some updates from the field through the day. #mocoinvotes

7:01 a.m. Unitarian Universalist Church, 2120 N Fee Lane. About 55 people were in line around 6:30 a.m. A half hour later that number had reduced to about 30. Holding signs were volunteers with April Hennessey’s campaign for MCCSC school board and Judith Benckart’s campaign for circuit judge.

7:36 a.m. University Elementary School, 1111 N Russell Rd. Only about 20 people are waiting, but when polls opened the line of 105 people stretched all the way to 10th Street, according to Tom Duffy, who’s working this polling site for Election Protection. About three-quarters of the 28 polling sites in Monroe County are staffed with Election Protection volunteers, he said. They’re focusing on student districts, because they often run into difficulties with issues like valid IDs. The maximum wait so far at this site so far has been 55 minutes. Volunteers with April Hennessey’s campaign for MCCSC school board, as well as Judith Benckart’s and Kara Krothe’s campaigns for circuit judge are holding signs for their candidates. Benckart and Krothe are vying for the same seat. Geoff Bradley is here on his own behalf for his judge’s race.

8:10 a.m. Evangelical Community Church, 503 S High St. An email check turns up a message from county clerk Nicole Browne. In the first hour of voting, over 200 people voted at each of the following polling sites: Bloomington High School South, Ellettsville Christian Church, Grandview Elementary School, Jackson Creek Middle School, Southside Christian Church, St. John’s Catholic Church.

Here at Evangelical Community Church the number is not yet that high, but still over 100 people have voted here. No line currently. The Indiana University police officer who come through the door had his choice of check-in stations.

8:26 a.m. Binford Elementary School, 2300 E 2nd St, Bloomington. No line. But at 6 a.m. there were 81 people ready to vote. The count of ballots cast so far is over 200. No candidates here, but a representative from Election Protection is on watch.

8:41 a.m. Faith Lutheran Church, 2200 S High St. There is no line. So far 129 people have voted here. At 6 a.m. there were 27 people waiting. One great accessibility feature of this voting site is the overhang where people can drive through and let a passenger out, right at the entrance.

9:06 a.m. Sherwood Oaks Christian Church 2700 E Rogers Rd. Representatives from both campaigns for the Division 8 circuit judge’s race between Judith Benckart and Kara Krothe are here. For Benckart it’s Ted, her husband. For Krothe it’s Kara herself. She’s headed over to Jackson Creek Middle School after this, she said. At 6 a.m. there were 100 people in line, and inside of 30 minutes they had all voted, according to election workers. The total so far is 374.

9:36 a.m. Jackson Creek Middle School 3980 S Sare Rd. The latest update from county clerk Nicole Browne is that the software she uses to monitor voting activity is having intermittent issues. But the 9 a.m. update from the clerk says that in Ellettsville, 714 people have voted at St. John’s Catholic Church and 718 people have voted at Ellettsville Christian Church.

Here at Jackson Creek Middle School, home of the Jaguars, where sportsmanship is an expectation, the count of voters so far is 641. At 6 a.m. this morning there were 142 people in line. Currently there’s no line.

One voter who believed he was registered in a precinct that voted at Jackson Creek Middle School discovered he was not. Election workers looked him up and pointed him in the direction of Unionville Elementary School.

10:10 a.m. Bloomington South High School, Bloomington High School South 1965 S Walnut St. Monroe County Demcoratic Party chair Jennifer Crossley is here coordinating a social media effort. Standing next to her is a representative of Geoff Bradley’s campaign for judge, Larry Allen, who’s assistant city attorney for Bloomington. Representatives of Kara Krothe’s campaign for judge and Alyssa Bailey’s campaign for state representative are also here.

So far 595 people have voted here. At 6 a.m. there were 87 people in line, and it took about 40 minutes for them all to vote. Right now the line appears only briefly, two or three deep, and then disappears after a couple minutes.

10:59 a.m. Free Methodist Church 1121 S Lincoln St. Kara Krothe’s campaign for circuit court judge is the only one here with a representative. It’s her brother, Jason, who is taking the day off work to work the polls for his sister.

These blocks of Lincoln Street were made famous by one of the opening sequences of the movie “Breaking Away” as Dave toodles along on his bicycle with a trophy in hand after winning a race. About a block away from here is the house where Dave’s family lived..

At 6 a.m. 23 people were standing in line waiting to vote at Free Methodist. Over 500 have voted now.

The latest word from county clerk Nicole Browne is that the Burgoon Church polling site has had 60 people vote so far. That might not sound like many, but it’s about 75 percent of their registered voters, according to Browne.

11:00 a.m. Update from county clerk: “I want to take a moment to thank our oldest voter so far, who was born in 1921 (making him/her 99 years young) and our youngest voter who turned eighteen TODAY. Happy Birthday and thank you for voting!”

Also from the clerk: “Mailed ballots must arrive at Election Central by NOON today. Letter carriers who are finding mailed ballots in their mail bags are running them to the letter carrier assigned to Election Central.”

Noon Update from county clerk. Nicole Browne says five polling sites have had more than 1,000 people vote so far: Ellettsville Christian Church, Grandview Elementary School, Jackson Creek Middle School, Southside Christian Church and St. John’s Catholic Church. A message from the clerk: “Call ten friends and check to see if they have voted.”

12:58 p.m. Fairview Elementary School 500 W 7th St. The total number of voters to go through this polling site so far is 306. This would be The Square Beacon’s in-person polling place for Election Day voting. But that task was taken care on Day 2 of the early voting period. Five hours to go.

1:20 p.m. Indiana Memorial Union Solarium 900 E 7th St.

At 6 a.m. 30 people were in line to vote. By now 387 people have voted. A band has set up to play outside the building doors. Their first  number is the John Prine classic, “Angel from Montgomery.” No one knows the answer to the song’s question:

“How the hell can a person go to work in the morning
And come home in the evening and have nothing to say?”

2:00 p.m. Update from the county clerk. With four hours to go, here’s how things stand. Over 1,000 people have voted at Bloomington High School South, Grandview Elementary School, Highland Park Elementary School and Jackson Creek Middle School. Approaching 1,500 voters are Ellettsville Christian Church and St. John’s Catholic Church. Southside Christian Church leads the way with 1,500 voters so far. That’s about 8,500 voters at seven polling locations. There are 21 other locations in the county.

4:00 p.m. Update from the county clerk. “I can report that Election Day in-person voting has exceeded early/absentee in-person voting.”

By The Square Beacon’s tally, 22,881 voted early in person. Based on the clerk’s 4 o’clock update, at least another 22,881 can be added to that. Adding around 14,000 returned mail-in ballots (as of Monday) makes for a total of a bit more than 60,000, which was the final number for 2016.

With two hours left to vote, it’s probably safe to project that the numerical turnout this year will be greater than for 2016. The final two hours could get a little extra boost from after-work voters who know that if they’re in line by 6 p.m. they’ll be allowed to vote


The Square Beacon plans to wrap up the tour of the polling sites by returning to University Elementary School for the closing of the polls. Why there? A source from the earlier visit reported that the election inspector opened the polls at 6 a.m. by saying, “Hear ye, Hear ye, the polls are now open.”  The Square Beacon lives to hear “Hear ye, Hear ye” which, with any luck, will repeated when the polls are closed. Until then, be safe and be square.


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