Trying out vote centers
Tuesday’s election was the first countywide general election to utilize the new vote center system, giving registered voters 18 places spread across the county to cast their ballots.
Brittany Turner, who lives in Clay Township in the Petersville area, said she loved the flexibility. She had some errands to run and was planning to come into Columbus to do that — and Donner Center on 22nd Street was a convenient place for her to vote.
“I like you can go anywhere you want this year,” Turner said. “It makes it easy for people.”
Four years ago, Bartholomew County registered voters in the presidential election were required to cast ballots in their designated precinct, of which there were 66. The vote center program debuted in 2015 for the Columbus city primary.
Avoiding long lines
Although she moved to Hamilton County in August, former Columbus resident Josann Sims had not legally changed her voter registration data. For that reason, she traveled to Donner Center to cast her ballot Tuesday afternoon.
Based on long lines reported in communities in and around Indianapolis, the now-Fishers resident was anticipating waiting for more than an hour to cast her ballot.
However, Sims was delighted to find herself seventh in line after signing in.
“I was not anticipating to just walk in and out,” Sims said. “I’m glad I came.”
Election day food deliveries
Two Bartholomew County Democrats joined forces as the polls opened at 6 a.m. Tuesday.
County commissioner candidate Brad Woodcock and county council at-large candidate Pam Clark managed to travel to all 18 Bartholomew County voting centers before noon, Clark said.
But instead of campaigning, the two focused on bringing snacks and coffee, as well as lunch items later in the day, to both voters and workers at each location.
This idea wasn’t necessarily to win votes but to keep their minds off what they couldn’t control, Clark said.
“By doing this, we weren’t sitting around obsessing over results we weren’t going to know for quite a few hours.”
Calm after the storm
Quiet, patient and calm. Those were the qualities that almost all voters appeared to have at three of the most popular polling places in Bartholomew County: Donner Center, Grace Lutheran Church and St. John’s Masonic Temple.
One reason was that most were happy that they didn’t have to wait in long lines, election officials at each location stated.
Two GOP vote center inspectors agreed that Bartholomew County voters were ready to place the emotionally charged 2016 presidential campaign behind them.
“It’s been ugly,” Dave Leach said at the St. John’s vote center.
“Absolutely!” said Charlie DeWeese at Donner.
Indiana Kids’ Election
Students in Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. also had a chance to get involved in the political voting process Tuesday through a mock election. The Indiana Kids’ Election, which allows students across across Indiana to cast ballots for president, Indiana governor and U.S. Senate from Indiana, is for kindergarten to Grade 12.
More than 250,000 students across the state were expected to cast their ballots as part of the process, which also required them to register on or before Oct. 11, just like their parents.
Among participants were students at Columbus Signature Academy — Lincoln campus, where 350 students in kindergarten through Grade 6, in addition to staff members, got a chance to vote electronically using log-in information designated for each individual, principal Brett Findley said.
As of 1 p.m., Findley said Republican Donald Trump had been the top pick among students at his school, leading Democrat Hillary Clinton by three or four percentage points.
For Indiana governor, 173 individuals at Lincoln as of 2:30 p.m. during the final tally of votes chose Democrat John Gregg; 156 people picked Republican Eric Holcomb.
Lincoln sixth-grade students Ryan Moore, Ethan Scott, Addyson Mathis and Kasey Kelley were involved in presenting information about the U.S. presidential election and creating election booths. Moore said it was also a learning experience for him being involved in the Indiana Kids Election, which is sponsored by the Indiana State Bar Association, Indiana Secretary of State and Indiana Department of Education.