Elwood residents raise concerns about long lines on Election Day

Ken de la Bastide, The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind.
·3 min read

Mar. 5—ELWOOD — During the second public hearing on vote centers, Elwood residents raised questions about the long lines of people waiting to vote last November.

Approximately 25 residents attended the Wednesday meeting at the East Main Street Christian Center.

There will be two more public hearings in Pendleton and Anderson. No date or location has been set for Pendleton, and the final meeting will take place at the Madison County Government Center.

County officials hope to adopt the vote center plan by the end of the month and submit it to the Indiana Secretary of State's office for the vote center county designation.

Both the Madison County Council and Board of County Commissioners have adopted resolutions to have the county designed a vote center county starting in 2022.

Madison County Clerk Olivia Pratt said the Election Board is requesting funding from the county council to purchase an additional 150 machines in time for the 2022 election.

She said the county currently has 170 machines.

"We know there was a problem last year," Pratt said. "We're working to resolve the problem."

Last year, the Madison County Commissioners denied a request from the Election Board to adopt a vote center plan and then denied a request for funding to purchase additional machines.

It resulted in some voters waiting up to six hours to cast a ballot in the November general election.

Russ Willis, the Madison County Republican Party chairman and a member of the Election Board, said the public meetings are to get input from county residents before the final plan is adopted.

"There will be a minimum of eight machines at each of the polling locations," he said. "Some locations might have fewer machines, and there will be more at locations where vote turnout is heavier.

"We can't control the length of the lines," Willis said. "I can't imagine the lines being that long in the future."

As currently proposed for the 2022 election cycle, there will be 29 vote center locations in Madison County, with 15 in Anderson, four in Pendleton, two in Elwood and one each in Alexandria, Chesterfield, Lapel, Summitville, Orestes, Ingalls and Markleville.

There will be eight satellite vote center locations for early voting two weeks prior to the primary and general elections and voting at the Madison County Government Center for 28 days.

Early voting locations will include five in Anderson and one each in Elwood, Alexandria and Pendleton.

"This will save the county money in the long run," Ludy Watkins, chairwoman of the local Democrat Party and an Election Board member, said. "We're going from 80 to 29 locations which will require fewer poll workers."

Kyle Noone asked if it would be possible to have early voting take place on Sundays.

Willis said there will be no voting on Sunday because many of the vote center locations are churches.

Pratt said every registered voter in Madison County will be informed by mail of the vote center locations and hours.

She said the county will have notifications of the change in local newspapers, the county's website and on social media.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.