Buckle up, Bloomington, it’s Election Day!

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Arlington Heights Elementary School, where voters in the Bloomington 14 precinct cast their ballots shortly after polls opened at 6 a.m. on Nov. 5, 2019. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The polls for Bloomington’s municipal elections opened today “without incident,” according to an email sent out by Monroe County’s clerk, Nicole Browne.

For a last-minute overview of candidates and the background for the cancelled elections in all but two of Bloomington’s six city council districts, check out The Beacon’s voter’s guide.

Here are some quick links to candidate profiles:

District 2

District 3

The Beacon will try to tour all of the nine polling locations for District 2 and District 3 today. Timestamped updates to this post will be filed from each polling place.

06:57 District 2 | Bloomington 14 (Arlington Heights Elementary: Light rain is making a soggy morning of it for campaign workers who are standing near the entrance of the school building, outside the perimeter where no campaigning is allowed. The two District 2 candidates, Sue Sgambelluri (D) and Andrew Guenther (R) both have volunteers here. Guenther himself is also here. They tell me that no voters have yet appeared.

Inside, where two four-way voting booths are set up in the gymnasium, the poll workers are delighted when The Beacon appears—they think they have their first voter. Delight turns quickly to disappointment. As of 7:15 a.m. no voters had cast a ballot here at Arlington Heights Elementary.

07:48 District 2 | Bloomington 13 and 17 (Genesis Church) “OK, sir, you have voted,” says the poll worker here at Genesis Church after the machine scans his ballot. That made him voter 21.

The update from Nicole Browne, Monroe County’s clerk, is that 40 people voted in the first hour. The biggest turnout so far has been at University Elementary School, according to Browne. Andrew Guenther and Sue Sgambelluri are both here with some volunteers.

Three voters arrive as The Beacon is chatting with them. Voters are supplied with campaign literature and head inside to cast their ballots. A line of four voters deep has formed by the time The Beacon leaves.

08:07 District 3 | Bloomington 22 (Meadowood) The rain has stopped. The sky is starting to lighten.”You should have some music on to keep people awake!” says a voter on arrival here at Meadowood. She’s a resident here. She’s voter number 18 so far. No campaign volunteers are staffing this polling place outside. The total count in both districts across all polling places is 73 voters, according to the county clerk, Nicole Browne. No voters yet at the Indiana Memorial Union or the Unitarian Church, according to Browne.

08:43 District 2 | Bloomington 7 (Unitarian Universalist Church) No registered voters have appeared so far at this polling location. One person did appear, but was registered in a precinct where there is no race. Discussion among poll workers is focussed on the idea of voting centers, instead of polling locations decided by precinct. Another conversational topic: scooters. Useful perspective from a poll worker who is a Lime employee.

The update from the county clerk says 163 voters have turned out so far on Election Day in District 2 and District 3.

09:48 District 3 | Bloomington 9, 10 and 16 (University Elementary) Two candidates for District 3 are represented outside the polling place. Ron Smith has a volunteer and Nick Kappas himself is here. As they approach, voters get a “Thank you for voting today!” from the campaigns. In response, one voter responds with a thumbs-up from each hand and a cheerful “Let’s do this!” As The Beacon heads inside, a voter is responding to the pitch from Kappas: “And what else?” she asks.

The count so far today at University Elementary is 85 voters. Books that poll workers have brought to pass the time are getting only sporadic attention. “I’m not reading enough at a time to know what’s going on,” says one poll worker.

The update from the county clerk, Nicole Browne is 278 Election Day voters total for District 2 and District 3. Just one polling place still has no Election Day voters, according to Browne: “I would absolutely love it if my Unitarian Church voters would turn out. We’re ready and waiting for you.” Geoff McKim, who’s volunteering for Sgambelluri’s campaign reports around 10:10 a.m. “Just had one.” The Unitarian Church poll site thus avoids a shutout.

10:41 District 3 | Perry 21 (Eastview Church of the Nazarene) One added quote from a voter passed along by campaign staffers from last polling site: “I voted so I can complain.” Sun is now out full bore. Temperature is now up to 45 F degrees. The voter count here at Eastview is 72.

Outside, the Kappas campaign is the only one represented. Wearing Kappas shirts and handing out his literature are Maddie Shaw and Arina Trotter, who are members of the Bloomington North High School Democrats. Update from the county clerk, Nicole Browne: 406 people have voted so far on Election Day, which is more than voted early or by absentee ballot.

11:38 District 3 | Perry 20 (Binford Elementary) The sun has knocked the worst of the chill off the air. It’s around 47 F degrees now. Here at Binford Elementary, 20 people have voted so far. No visible signs of campaigns, except for yard signs.

The voting location is in the auditorium, which looks like it has around 500 seats. The back row has access to an electrical outlet, which is perfect for recharging the battery of a mobile journalist’s laptop. Banners hang from the wall. They offer words to live by. Among them: “Organize today, then play.” Swap in “vote” for “organize” and it would be perfect for today.

Gentleman navigated sloped aisle of auditorium with a cane. Elapsed time from the top row to the stage, checking in, to achieving an “I voted” sticker: 4 minutes 38 seconds.

12:11 District 3 | Bloomington 21 (Evangelical Community Church) Election Day is halfway done. Here at the Evangelical Community Church, they’ve had 42 voters so far. When the Beacon displayed media credentials, the response from a poll worker is reassuring: “We won’t shoot you!” The Beacon’s Indiana roots are able to parse this as a joke.

Nicole Browne’s noon update pegs the total voting today at 512 so far. Browne is Monroe County’s clerk. She reports that a couple of people an hour are showing up at Election Central wanting to vote there—they can’t. Voting is only at polling places on Election Day. Election Central is for early voting. Genesis Church and University Elementary have the top voting numbers so far, according to the clerk.

13:10 District 2 | Bloomington 5 and 23 (IU Memorial Union) No sign of either the Guenther or the Sgambelluri campaigns here except for yard signs.

At Indiana Memorial Union, the polling site is in the University Club. The Union is a substantial building. It took a minute to navigate to the right spot. At yesterday’s county election board meeting, board members learned that for next November’s general elections, IU is planning to move the location inside IMU to the Alumni Hall and Solarium area.

So far today, 10 people have voted here at the IMU. About that same number have dropped by only to discover that they are not registered or do not live in one of the two districts where elections are being held. Here’s the one-sentence explanation of Bloomington city council offered to potential voter who turned out not to be registered and did not know the issues on the ballot: “The council basically decides everything in this town.”

The 1 p.m. update from Nicole Browne, the county clerk, is that 1,000 people have now voted, when Election Day and early voting tallies are combined. That translates to 1 percent of eligible voters, according to the clerk.

That concludes The Beacon’s tour of the polls for Nov. 5, 2019.

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