Long lines but sunny start to early voting in Monroe County

Tuesday morning, Oct. 6, saw a long line of voters in downtown Bloomington.

It stretched south down the block from Election Central, at the corner of 7th and Madison, around the corner where the former La Vie en Rose Cafe stands, west along 6th Street, nearly to Rogers Street.

Tuesday was the first day of early voting in Monroe County for the Nov. 3 general election.

Around 8 a.m., when voters could first start casting their ballots, the temperature was hovering a smidgen over 40 F degrees. But by early afternoon, clear, sunny skies helped the mercury break 70 F.

At 8:45 a.m. The Square Beacon counted 105 people in line to vote. Among the prospective voters, The Square Beacon did not spot any without a face covering, as a precaution against spread of the COVID-19 pandemic virus. Voters emerging from Election Central mid-morning said they had stood in line around an hour.

An hour is about how long it took the The Square Beacon to cast a ballot, after joining the line on 6th Street just before noon. The Square Beacon’s time inside the polls was clocked at 16 minutes and 44 seconds.

The Square Beacon counted seven voting tables with two spots to vote at each table. Only a couple spots were free at a given time. The tables appear giraffe-like—the legs are set into sections of PVC pipe that make for a standing-height desk. The idea is to eliminate chairs as one more surface that needs to be disinfected. One of the tables is at normal height, for voters who aren’t able to stand while they’re filling out their ballots.

Around 12:45 p.m. county election supervisor Karen Wheeler said 419 people had voted so far. At that pace, about 800 people will have voted by the time voting closes for the day at 6 p.m.

The schedule of early voting times is posted on the Election Central website.

Early in the day, Ed Robertson was helping with a Democratic Party effort to get people out to the polls. He was standing at 7th and Walnut streets, holding big arrow-shaped sign that read, “Vote Now.” Robertson told The Square Beacon that it was recycled from the Joe Donnelly campaign for U.S. Senate. Donnelly, a Demorat, ran for reelection in 2018 against Republican Mike Braun and Libertarian Lucy Brenton. Braun won that race.

While The Square Beacon was in line to vote, Monroe County’s clerk Nicole Browne came out to greet voters waiting to get inside Election Central. She wanted to know if they had any questions or concerns about anything they might have heard or seen on the news. The county clerk is an elected official but is not up for election this year. Browne’s term goes through 2022.

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