With nearly 32,600 ballots cast by the early voting deadline on Monday, Tippecanoe County was about 4,300 votes short of the early voting record set in 2008.
In the final four hours of early voting between 8 a.m. and noon, several hundred voters endured a 2 ½ hour wait in a line that line stretched from the sidewalk outside the county office building, up several flights of stairs to the election office on the third floor.
Courtney Stephenson says she has to work on Election Day, so she decided to wait her turn on Monday.
“I just feel like it’s my duty to come out and vote,” Stephenson says. “Make my vote, and hopefully, it matters.”
Destiny Peters says she tried to vote early at a PayLess grocery store, but the lines there were long.
On Monday, she occupied her 15-month old son, Asher, with fruit snacks, animal cookies, walking and dancing.
“There’s been lots of lines no matter how long it’s been going on,” Peters says. “I figure this is going to be shorter than tomorrow, so this is what we’re doing.”
Some adults and some children turned to digital devices for entertainment or distraction.
For others, a camaraderie of sorts developed, and that proved helpful for people with children in strollers and older voters who couldn’t stand up for 2 hours straight.
Board of Elections and Registrations Co-Director Miranda Bilodeau says those who could stand were asked to hold a place in line for those who were allowed to take the elevator up to the polling area and sit down to wait their turn.
“Almost like at Disneyland, where we’d give a little sticky note to the person who in stood in front of them,” Bilodeau says. “So when that person gets to the front of the line, then we go find the person the sticky note was for.”
Bilodeau says more voters couldn’t be accommodated on Monday because of space constraints, and also because the majority of the election staff was delivering machines at the county’s 19 vote centers so the polls are ready to open at 6 a.m. Tuesday.
If there are long lines on Election Day, she says the wait should be more comfortable because there is more space to set up additional voting machines and more room for people to stand in line.
Based on the early voting data, County Clerk Christa Coffey says she expects about 50,000 people to cast a ballot on Election Day.
To see the locations of the Tippecanoe County vote centers click here.
To see a sample ballot click here.