Hamilton Co. population boom presents voting challenges

A three-hour wait is challenging for anyone, but especially mothers with children.
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The races are decided, but one glaring issue not settled: a good explanation into why it took up to three hours to vote in Hamilton County.

While some people didn't mind the wait, the long lines were a big commitment, especially for mothers.

"I'm a little frustrated with the baby, but it's important to come out and vote," said Jessica Wunderlich, Fishers.

Angie Richards was doubtful she was going to get the chance to cast her ballot. "I have to get the kids off the bus and this is my second time here," she said.

Election officials heard from scores of people upset at having to wait, especially when things seemed to move so much more quickly in much larger Marion County.

"Every presidential year we have long lines," said Hamilton County Election Administrator Kathy Richardson.

Richardson says the long lines are often at polling places in Fishers where the population continues to explode. This year, voters there also faced a referendum on whether Fishers should become a city. Instead of two minutes in the booth, many took up to seven minutes to vote.


"I'm glad people are taking their time but it's irritating spending so much time waiting," said Rose Marie Horak, Fishers.

Even without a referendum, Richardson says the only way to eliminate the wait is to double the number of voting machines. She says to go from 500 to 1,000 machines would cost about $2 million at a time when the county needs every dollar it can find.

"It's a fiscal issue. Do you buy equipment that will sit on a shelf three out of every four years when the technology changes as quickly as it does? Is it cost effective to do that?" said Richardson.

Those are questions we asked several voters.

"If we got the money, fine, if we haven't, no," said Len Kurfirst.

"I tend to think about what's going on on the east coast and I can't help but wonder what it was like to vote there," said Dave Albin.

"Voting is one of the most important things we can do as Americans, so anything we can do to make it more efficient would be beneficial," said Lori Salomo.

County Commissioner Steve Dillinger believes another factor contributed to the long lines Election Day. He thinks many Republican voters who typically vote a straight party ticket didn't this year because of the U.S. Senate.

The GOP candidate was Richard Mourdock, who upset Richard Lugar in the primary.

Dillinger said he doesn't believe spending money on more voting machines is the answer to the lines, but he said commissioners will be looking at ways to streamline things.

For one, he's not sure major referendums should be part of a presidential ballot.

"I just don't think it's the best time to do a referendum." he said.