Vignettes from the polls on Election day

Doubling up staff

Nearing the end of the morning rush of voters, just before 9 a.m., residents moved through lines in about five or 10 minutes, thanks to double the amount of staffers and machines at one vote center.

One resident was beaming for getting through the line at the White River branch of the Johnson County Public Library, one of the county’s busiest vote centers, in seven minutes flat, inspector Heather Overton said.

“Even when we had people backed up into the lobby, we were hearing 10, 15 minute (wait times),” Overton said. “With the extra machines, we’re getting people in and out really fast, so that’s been really nice. We can tell in the moods that the voters are all very happy.”

The library started with a rush of voters at 6 a.m. but slowed to a shorter line by 8:30 a.m. But the vote center had never been without at least 10 people waiting to vote in that time, Overton said.

“It’s been wrapped around the lobby all day,” Overton said. “We’ve been busy. We’ve never been without a line.”

— Abby Armbruster

Getting out early

Greenwood residents Karla and Alan Edson got in line at Jonathan Byrd’s about 10 minutes before the doors opened at 6 a.m.

About 20 minutes later, the couple had snaked through the line under the canopy, through the hallways and to a voting center.

“The issues are too important to just be apathetic,” Karla Edson said.

Even though they waited in a line this morning, the Edsons knew it would be smarter to try to vote now instead of later in the day.

“If I had to come after work, I’d be here for two hours,” Karla Edson said. “I figured the lines would (last) for eternity. I think everyone else feels the same way.”

By the time the Edsons left Jonathan Byrd’s, the line was at least 75 people long and growing.

— Abby Armbruster

First in line

The first voter at Jonathan Byrd’s, one of the county’s busiest vote centers, on Tuesday was Greenwood resident Karen Cooper.

Although she was fifth in line before the doors opened, due to vote machine issues, she was the first to finish casting her ballot, she said.

“I was just wanting to (vote) before work,” Cooper said.

When Cooper first arrived, four people were ahead of her, but by the time she was checked in, she guessed as many as 50 people were in line behind her, she said.

— Abby Armbruster

Lifting spirits

A resident at Mount Pleasant Christian Church, one of the busiest vote centers, tried to lift other voters’ spirits Tuesday morning by writing a note of support and leaving it on the ground.

“From this spot, it took me 20 minutes to be across the line. Hang in there!” the note read.

The sign remained fairly accurate as the morning went on, White River Township resident Alice Bush said.

Her wait was about 25 minutes, but voting itself took less than one minute to do, she said.

“Knowing who you want to vote for ahead of time helps,” Bush said. “I know that this is a big year, and we actually make a difference this year. This year, our voice matters a little bit more in the primary.”

— Abby Armbruster

A morning slowdown

All morning, the scanners that allow clerks to check in residents were down at Greenwood Christian Church.

That meant clerks had to manually search for residents by last name, inspector Garnet Whited said.

But after a rush of voters right at 6 a.m., the vote center was relatively quiet much of the morning, Whited said. By about 9:30 a.m., the line to vote had been empty, Whited said.

Whited credits his staff for helping the line continue to move because Greenwood Christian Church was one of seven locations throughout Johnson County to have double the number of poll workers to ensure a quicker voting experience.

— Abby Armbruster

A lifetime of voting

For one voter, portraits of past presidents remind him of a story about his voting experience.

John Adolph was 23 when he voted for the first time; that was 83 years ago.

He remembers voting for Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the 1932 presidential election and shaking President Harry Truman’s hand. And last week, the 106-year-old Franklin resident walked into the Johnson County Courthouse to cast his ballot and spent a few minutes talking to voters and workers.

He shared stories of past presidents including the night he lost a $50 bet that Richard Nixon wouldn’t win the election — the only year he voted Republican, Adolph said.

And he talked about this election and the importance of voting in order to have a say, Adolph said.

“We’ve had some dirty elections, but I think this is the worst one,” Adolph said.

“And if you’re a citizen of the United States, it’s your responsibility to come vote. I don’t argue politics with nobody. But if you don’t vote, you don’t have no business talking about it.”

— Corey Elliot

Long lines, steady crowd

Poll workers at the Bargersville Town Hall couldn’t remember the last time the line was this long, and the crowd this steady.

By 11:15 a.m., 530 people had stopped in to vote. By noon, that number had reached 600.

Karen Morrison has been an election worker for about 35 years and couldn’t remember a primary election that was this busy, she said.

Two machines had to be brought in to help move voters in and out faster, inspector Steve Welch said.

“This is the busiest primary I’ve ever worked,” poll worker Rita Townsend said.

“(Taking a break) isn’t going to happen. I don’t think we’re going to be eating until closing time.”

— Corey Elliot

Rain impacts

Steady rain was deterring residents from stopping to talk with candidates and supporters in front of vote centers.

County council member John Myers and county commissioner Brian Baird, both hoping for re-election, got to Mount Pleasant Christian Church before 7 a.m. to campaign to any voters who haven’t made up their mind on local races.

But with the rain falling, residents are acknowledging the candidates, then heading straight inside, Myers and Baird said.

“(They’re) not really in conversation mode this morning,” Baird said.

“Can’t blame them,” Myers said.

Baird started his morning at Mount Auburn United Methodist Church, but the rain deterred voters so much that they didn’t even want to get out of their cars to run into the polling site, Baird said.

— Abby Armbruster

Keeping busy

The afternoon crowd at GracePoint Church in New Whiteland dwarfed in comparison to the amount of voters that showed up in the morning.

At the entrance of the church, inspector Forrest Chambers passed the down time by flipping “I voted” stickers over so that they were facing up.

“(Voters) have been lined around the corner about three times today,” Chambers said. “But it’s off-and-on now.”

GracePoint Church had 600 voters by 12:45 p.m. The longer lines in the morning were due to too few pollbooks to check in voters, Chambers said.

Voters were mostly patient, despite the long lines, Chambers said.

“We could have used another pollbook, and one more poll worker may have moved long lines through faster,” Chambers said.

“You’re never going to get through (Election Day) without a few problems.”

— Corey Elliot

Fixing glitches

Before the first voter ever showed up to cast a ballot, Jim Martin had been to all four vote centers in Franklin to make sure each voting machine started without any issues.

Martin, who is a vote machine technician, has worked during elections for 14 years. He can still remember the days of counting ballots at 6 p.m., he said.

Now, he heads to the polls when a problem arises with voting machines or the computers used to check voters in.

One of his only calls on Election Day was to Grace United Methodist Church in Franklin, where the computer used to check in voters was not working.

“We really haven’t had a lot of problems today,” Martin said. “Just trying to hurry and get these lines through.”

— Corey Elliot

Making them smile

You could hear his voice from the very back of the line.

Bargersville resident Steve Welch was working as an inspector in his eighth Election Day. His enthusiasm made the vote center at Bargersville Town Hall feel more like a game show.

“Your number is next,” Welch said to each voter as they made their way toward a voting machine.

Welch’s smile made it hard for voters to be upset about the line that led out the door and into the drizzling rain outside.

Welch helped some voters at the machines, greeted others with a handshake and a pat on the back and chased down some as they headed for the exit to make sure they got their “I Voted” sticker.

“I haven’t had anyone who hasn’t left with a smile,” Welch said.

— Corey Elliot

A learning experience

Two brothers watched their mother intently as she checked in to vote.

“They’re scanning my license to make sure this is my only vote,” Chele Dove said to her sons.

Dove walked to a machine, explaining the voting process.

Caleb, 10, and Nate, 8, were hooked.

“We home-school and right now in American History we’re learning how our country was founded,” Dove said. “I’ll bring them back for the general election, too, so they can see how many people vote, and how intense that is.”

Poll workers at GracePoint Church in New Whiteland said they saw several parents bring their children on Tuesday, and for the same reason: to teach.

Dove and her two sons plan on watching the results tonight as a family with her husband and 16-year-old daughter, she said.

“They’ll be with me at each election from now on,” Dove said.

— Corey Elliot

Anticipation of voting

While standing in line at Turning Point Church in Franklin, Kyle Stone, 20, and Mekenzie Dixon, 19, were anxiously waiting their chance to vote.

This is the first presidential election the two were old enough to vote in. Both have watched the news, followed social media and — more than anything else — paid attention, Dixon said.

“It’s important to vote and create the future you want in this country,” Stone said.

— Corey Elliot

No time to sit

The chairs they brought to sit in during down time were barely ever used.

Angie Turnmire and her two daughters, Claire and Martina, were greeting voters and promoting county council candidate Josh Turner outside of Grace United Methodist Church in Franklin. About 870 voters stopped in to the church to cast a ballot by 2:30 p.m.

“We packed a lunch and even brought chairs,” Angie Turnmire said. “But we haven’t used the chairs because of the amount of voters. We wanted to be active and able to say hi and shake their hands.”

For Claire Turnmire, who turns 18 two days after the general election, campaigning and electioneering for Turner is her way of being a part of the election, she said.

— Corey Elliot

Voting by mail

We were out of town and feared that we might not make it back by the primary election, so we applied for absentee ballots by mail.

After nine days, our ballots had still not arrived, and I called the Johnson County Clerk’s Office.

Crystal Seigfred took my call and assured me that our ballots had been mailed immediately after the application was received. Crystal suggested we re-apply and emailed me a special form for ballots to replace ones that were lost, which I completed and emailed back.

The next day, our original ballots finally arrived. We filled them out and mailed them, with only a few days left before the deadline. I emailed Crystal to let her know.

A few days later, Crystal emailed me to say that our ballots had arrived and our votes would be counted.

With thousands of absentee ballots submitted, I am sure Crystal and the other employees of the Johnson County Clerk’s Office have had their hands full.

Crystal Seigfred went above and beyond in assisting us to make sure we were able to vote in this important election. She is a great example of a professional, efficient public servant.

 — Margaret McGovern

Voting on lunch

A Bargersville resident spent most of his lunch break waiting to vote.

But Paul Williams doesn’t mind, and he expected it, he said.

Williams packed his lunch for the day. Standing in line at the Bargersville Town Hall for about 30 minutes was worth it, Williams said.

“This is probably going to take up most of my break time,” Williams said. “But this is high on the list of priorities.”

— Corey Elliot

Author photo
Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.