A line of voters stretched out the door and around the corner of the building at Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria in Greenwood early Saturday afternoon.

The scene was reminiscent of Election Day, but it was still 10 days before Nov. 8.

Anetta Rettig was one of more than 100 people inching their way through. She estimated she had been in line for about 45 minutes, and several dozen voters still separated her from the entrance.

“This is the longest line I’ve ever seen in voting,” Rettig said.

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Rettig, who normally takes advantage of early voting, said she is used to lines just 10 to 15 minutes long.

Several voters said they waited an hour-and-a-half to cast their ballot at Jonathan Byrd’s.

About 3,000 votes had been cast by 3 p.m. Saturday at five locations in Johnson County, bringing the early voting total to more than 10,000, deputy clerk Reagan Higdon said.

That number topped the amount of people who voted early in the spring primary and is nearing the voting goal officials set early this fall for the general election.

The turnout exceeded officials’ expectations.

“We didn’t think it would be nearly that heavy,” Johnson County Clerk Susie Misiniec said.

She now plans to double the staff for next Saturday, as more long lines are expected. Staff increases could be made during the week as well, depending on the turnout.

Poll workers at Jonathan Byrd’s and Mount Pleasant Christian Church, the two locations with the heaviest turnout, were able to redirect some voters to the Johnson County Courthouse in Franklin, where the line was shorter, she said.

Workers at the courthouse have had several weeks of experience, which helped make the line move faster, Misiniec said.

The cause of the lengthy lines was mostly due to not being able to get everyone checked-in quickly, she said. All of the locations had enough voting machines.

Before early voting began, Misiniec said her goal was for 15,000 Johnson County residents to vote before Nov. 8. She is confident that figure will easily be surpassed in the next week.

About 108,000 Johnson County residents are registered to vote. Getting half of the registered voters out to the polls would be a good turnout in a presidential election year, but Misiniec said she thinks turnout could be as high as 60 to 70 percent.

Craig and Cathy Mitchell said the long line at Jonathan Byrd’s was surprising, but they stuck it out for 90 minutes to cast their votes for Donald Trump.

Both of them voted straight Republican down the ballot, with one exception.

Craig Mitchell voted for Libertarian candidate Russell Brooksbank for the 9th District congressional race.

Republican candidate Trey Hollingsworth isn’t a Hoosier, he said, referencing the argument that Hollingsworth only moved to Indiana for the race.

Mitchell wasn’t concerned that casting an early ballot might make him regret any of his choices.

One fortunate couple was able to get through the line a bit quicker than most.

Poll workers let Morris Lambe, who has to use a walker, and his wife skip ahead to the front of the line so he wouldn’t have to stand for 90 minutes.

He has been voting since 1964, but said he hasn’t seen any turnout like this before.

County treasurer candidate Michele Ann Graves was handing out mints and business cards outside Jonathan Byrd’s. This was the third polling location she had visited Saturday, spending her morning at the Trafalgar branch of the Johnson County Public Library and Mount Pleasant Christian Church.

“It is so exciting to see this many people out to vote,” she said.

Early voting

Here is a look at where and when you can vote early:

Weekdays, now through Nov. 4, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Johnson County Courthouse, 5 E. Jefferson St., Franklin

Today through Nov. 4, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Jonathon Byrd’s Cafeteria

Franklin Community Center

Mount Pleasant Christian Church

Trafalgar Public Library

Today, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Greenwood Village South Retirement Community, 295 Village Lane, Greenwood

Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Franklin United Methodist Community, 1070 W. Jefferson St., Franklin

Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Compass Park, formerly Indiana Masonic Home, 690 State St., Franklin

Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Mount Pleasant Christian Church

Trafalgar Public Library

Jonathon Byrd’s Cafeteria

Johnson County Courthouse

Edinburgh Public Library, 119 W. Main Cross St, Edinburgh

Nov. 7, 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Johnson County Courthouse

Author photo
Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.