Popular place to vote
Poll workers offered several theories as to why St. Johns Masonic Lodge had what was described as an overwhelming turnout Tuesday.
Nearby residents who had voted in the precinct system at Richards Elementary, Columbus Community Church and Villa Apartments may have chosen to go to St. Johns, as well as residents in surrounding neighborhoods, GOP vote center inspector Dave Leach said.
Residential expansion in northeast Columbus, including new residents in the Presidential Park subdivision, also may have contributed, said mayoral candidate Jim Lienhoop supporters Lisa Westmark and Kavina Schumaker, who were greeting voters at the St. Johns site.
The rush at St. Johns began at 5:50 a.m., Leach said. That’s when several people came to the front door and asked whether the polls were open, Leach said. After that, there was a steady stream of voters that peaked about 7:30 a.m., Leach said. A fast-moving line formed all the way out the entrance of the building to the asphalt parking lot until about 12:20 p.m. By 1 p.m., 652 voters were counted during a brief slump. Shortly after that, another line of voters began forming out the door.
As of mid-afternoon, only three people had been turned away at St. Johns, poll workers said. One had canceled his voter registration. Another lived in another county, while the third resides just east of the city limits, outside the voting area for the city election.
“I want to vote for the mayor,” exclaimed the young female Clifty Township resident who was turned away.
She was advised to come back when countywide candidates are on the ballot.
The volume of voters at St. Johns Masonic Lodge contributed to a 15-minute wait for some voters Tuesday morning. However, voting was going smooth and steady by late morning, Bartholomew County Clerk Jay Phelps said.
With 12 voting machines at this and each of the seven other city voter centers, people arriving to vote were pleasantly surprised that they didn’t have to wait long. “They said, ‘I’m impressed. There were 20 people ahead of me, but I was only in line for six or seven minutes,’” GOP inspector Dave Leach said. Peak volume time was 7:30 a.m.
Other vote centers did not experience such delays, Phelps said.
One of the St. Johns voting machines had a malfunction with a start card, used by a poll worker to put the machine into an election mode, deputy elections supervisor Taylor Seegraves said. Poll workers said they also discovered that glare from overhead lights can adversely impact the performance of the new electronic poll book as the machines scan driver’s licenses. “Preference-wise, we like the old poll books,” Leach said. “But I realize we’re just all adjusting to something new.”
Donner Center experienced a slight glitch because of issues related to the electronic poll pads used to sign in voters. Each pad has a camera that is used to scan a voter’s identification card, and the camera on one pad wasn’t working properly all the time, Phelps said. Also, one poll worker was just a little nervous using the poll pad for the first time, he said.
Staff from the Voter Registration Office went out to troubleshoot as needed, Phelps said.
The Bartholomew County Voter Registration Office did its best to advise registered voters that many previous voting precincts are no longer being used because of a switch to vote centers.
Eight vote centers located across the city were used for Tuesday’s municipal primary elections. Voters could cast their ballots at any of the centers.
Staff at the Voter Registration Office placed notices on the doors of former precincts that were no longer being used to inform people about the change and where the vote centers were, said Julie Robertson, chief deputy clerk.
Unopposed but campaigning
Two unopposed Republican candidates were greeting voters at Donner Center’s voting center Tuesday in support of mayoral challenger Jim Lienhoop.
Columbus Clerk-Treasurer Luann Welmer and First District Councilman Dascal Bunch were at the Donner Center entrance wearing Lienhoop campaign items, Welmer in a T-shirt and Bunch with a button.
Republican poll inspector William Carr described the turnout at Donner Center as slow and steady, with lines forming only when a polling pad glitch delayed the process for a bit early in the day.
More than 560 voters had visited the Donner Center by 2 p.m., with voters continuing to trickle in one or two at a time. Inside, most machines were empty while three voters cast their vote.
Welmer doesn’t have an opponent yet for the fall election, but Bunch is being challenged by Democrat Christopher Rutan in the fall.
Bunch had placed one of his signs outside the Donner entrance and at the Grace Lutheran Church voting center, even though he was unopposed in the primary.
He planned to start his formal campaign at the end of June or the beginning of July and said he wouldn’t be taking his opponent lightly.
“I don’t want people to say I took anything for granted,” he said.
Bunch expressed dismay that there were two Republican election result parties Tuesday night, one sponsored by the Republican Central Committee at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center and another planned by Mayor Kristen Brown supporters at Factory 12 Event Loft.
“We’re all one party,” Bunch said. “We all have to get together and work as a team.”
Everyone needs to vote
Heather Kratzer voted at Terrace Lake Community Church voting center on the city’s west side, accompanied by her 2-year-old son Flynn.
Kratzer said she believes voting is an important civic duty, and everyone should participate in all elections.
“This is in our hometown where we can see things going on,” Kratzer said. “We need to make sure we have a voice.”
She noted that construction at the church didn’t have an impact on where she voted because she lives nearby.
Kratzer said she and her husband, Jeremy, didn’t attend any debates leading up to the election, but they followed the news in the media.
She said her family would be following the results throughout Tuesday night.
Steady stream of voters at bank
One candidate representative brought her own shade as the temperature headed up to the low 80s Tuesday afternoon.
Monica Federle used a large umbrella to keep cool while greeting voters at the MainSource Bank voting center on Jonathan Moore Pike.
Federle, who was wearing a green Laurie Booher council at-large T-shirt, said she was scheduled from noon to 2 p.m., and the voter traffic really picked up at lunchtime.
Inside the bank, officials said they hadn’t run into any issues with voters having to wait in lines. The bank had 11 voting machines running with a 12th on standby if needed.
Sandra Nolting, in a Mayor Kristen Brown shirt, and her husband spent the day at voting centers around Columbus. Sandra’s husband, Paul Nolting, started the day from 6 to 8 a.m. at MainSource Bank but planned to volunteer at Grace Lutheran Church, Terrace Lake Community Church and Donner Center, too. Sandra spent the early afternoon encouraging voters to come out and vote at the bank.
— Staff Reports