Monroe County polls stay open until 7 p.m. after ballot shortage

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Election Day Polling Problems
Monroe County election problems

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WTHR) - Monroe County polls stayed open an extra hour because of ballot shortages at up to half of their voting sites Tuesday.

"Voting has been extremely heavy, much higher than we thought, much more along the lines of a general election, not a midterm election," Carolyn VandeWiele, an election board member, said. "We are printing ballots steadily and have been getting them to precincts as quickly as possible."

Monroe County Clerk Nicole Browne requested that the Monroe County polling places remain open until 7 p.m., and the request was approved by Circuit Court Judge Mary Ellen Diekhoff.

All precincts were initially supplied with roughly 150-200 ballots. Election officials have been forced to print "hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of ballots on top of what each precinct already had," according to someone at the election central office. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

"We're printing them as fast as we can. We've had runners going out all day. I think we really underestimated the number of people who would be voting today," the worker said.

"We had times it was 50, 60 students just sitting on the floor waiting for 30 minutes to an hour," said poll inspector James David about the wait for ballots to be delivered.

While they waited, groups gave out pizza and snacks.

James Jenkins, an IU sophomore from Indianapolis, said he first went to vote at Indiana Memorial Union on IU campus at noon. He tells us he waited an hour only to be told they didn't have a ballot for him to vote. He went to get lunch and returned 2 hours later but they still didn't have a ballot for him to vote. Eventually, he was able to cast a ballot around 4 p.m.

"How do you run out of ballots for an election?" he said. "I don't understand."

The delay gave IU student Karli Forte a chance to get her flu checked out and be back in time to vote.

"Oh no, I have time to go to urgent care, so I went to urgent care and now I'm back," she said.

Another student said when he heard poll hours were extended, he "hopped on one of those Bird scooters and made it down here just in time."

At 7 p.m., David shut down the line.

"We just closed the polls, so this will be the last of our voters," he said.

While polls remained open until 7 p.m., any ballots cast between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. were considered "provisional" ballots, meaning a judge will have to sign off on each one for them to be counted.