Monroe County election supervisor Karen Wheeler minds the end of the line of early voters after 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020 outside Election Central. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)
A few of the choices on the ballot might give some voters paws. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)
Any kind of dog can be a pointer. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)
At the end of the first week of early voting in Monroe County, Indiana, the tally of ballots cast in person stood at 3,662.
With Election Central open from 8 a.m to 6 p.m. starting Tuesday, that total, averaged over 40 hours, works out to a throughput of about 92 voters per hour.
By day the totals were: Tuesday (899), Wednesday (857), Thursday (933) and Friday (973). Based on the persistent lines, those numbers are probably an indicator of the maximum pace for processing voters.
At that same pace, the 208 hours of early voting that are scheduled before the Nov. 3 election would yield around 19,000 voted ballots.
The latest figure from the county clerk’s office for the number of absentee mail-in ballots that have been requested is around 13,000.
Around 8:15 a.m. on Oct. 6, 2020, Ed Robertson stood at the corner of 7th and Walnut in Bloomington, Indiana directing voters to Election Central.
Election Central at 7th and Madison in Bloomington, Indiana on the first day of early voting, Oct. 6, 2020.
Monroe County clerk Nicole Browne greeted voters in line at 7th and Madison in Bloomington, Indiana on the first day of early voting, Oct. 6, 2020.
Looking west at the corner of 6th and Madison in Bloomington, Indiana. Voters are standing in line to cast their ballots at Election Central at 7th and Madison in Bloomington, Indiana on the first day of early voting, Oct. 6, 2020.
Looking north at the corner of 6th and Madison. Voters are standing in line to cast their ballots at Election Central a block north at 7th and Madison in Bloomington, Indiana on the first day of early voting, Oct. 6, 2020.
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.
According to Monroe County election supervisor Karen Wheeler, 17,997 absentee ballots had been sent out to voters as of Friday and 6,517 of them received by her office.
When The Square Beacon touched base with Wheeler on Saturday morning, she said about 5,000 more ballots still need to be sent out. That will make about 23,000 total absentee ballots for this year’s primary election. Election day is June 2.
A lot of voters waited until close to the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot. The deadline for turning in ballot applications was Thursday, May 21. The voted ballots themselves have to reach the clerk’s office by noon on primary election day, June 2. Voters who receive their ballots later next week, and are concerned that their mailed ballot might not arrive in time, can turn in their ballots in person at Election Central.
The roughly 1,300 ballots that have been processed every day for the last week is about twice the number Wheeler had previously described as the office’s maximum daily capacity. She said previously she’d be looking to recruit county employees who had been ordered to stay home from work during the COVID-19 health emergency.
On Saturday, she said about 20 people were working inside the Election Central building at 7th and Madison streets. They’ll need to work Sunday, Monday, and probably Tuesday, too, Wheeler figured.
Secretary of state Connie Lawson said on Friday that the state received the personal protection equipment (PPE) that it had ordered for election workers, using $7.5 million of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.
National Guard troops had started delivering masks, sanitizer, gloves and microfiber towels to all 92 counties the previous day, and were continuing deliveries “as I speak,” Lawson said.
Lawson said that her office had tapped Indiana sources of PPE who did not supply PPE to medical providers—to make sure her office was not depriving health care workers of needed equipment. Lawson made her remarks during Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s regular press conference on Friday.
Around midmorning today, The Beacon dropped by Monroe County’s Voting Central, at 7th and Madison streets in downtown Bloomington. It’s the site of early voting in Bloomington’s municipal elections, which started today.
By then, nearly half a dozen Bloomington residents had flouted conventional wisdom from The Carpenters about rainy days and Mondays—”nuthin’ to do but frown”—and found something else to do: vote.
About two and a half hours after the 8 a.m. start, Monroe County’s election supervisor Karen Wheeler told The Beacon that five people had voted early so far. She did not have a breakdown between District 2 and District 3, the only two of Bloomington’s four districts where elections are being held this year.