TERRE HAUTE —
It’s Election Day and registered voters in Indiana can take to the polls from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Hoosier voters are required to provide a government-issued photo identification. Voters who do not have their ID with them at the poll can cast a provisional ballot, but must provide a government-issued ID to the county clerk’s office before noon Nov. 16 for the ballot to count.
Voters in Vigo County took to the polls on Saturday and Monday, the last two days to cast an absentee ballot prior to today’s election.
The county’s lone voting site at the Vigo County Courthouse brought 338 voters on Saturday, while on Monday, with the poll site only open for four hours, 254 voters cast a ballot. The morning saw a constant line of at least 75 voters.
Many voters on Monday waited nearly two hours to cast ballots, while several others left after a half hour and others departed after just minutes.
While many decided to vote early this election, the reasons for that decision varied.
“We are heading to Chicago tomorrow. We have tickets to the Obama rally, so we wanted to make sure we voted,” said Dana Holman of Terre Haute.
Joe Dunagan said he “hadn’t decided yet” prior to Monday on how he would vote. Dunagan said he wanted to vote Monday as he will be busy today.
David Kachman said he recently moved to Indiana, after having lived in Michigan for the past three years. “This is my first election for governor in a presidential election year in Indiana, so I had a lot more reading and learning to do before I reached my decision,” Kachman said, “and I work” on election day.
Joni and Chuck Kenworthy of Terre Haute were near the end of a long line Monday with an hour to go before the poll site at the courthouse closed.
“We have been out of town the last few days and decided [Monday] to come vote before [election day],” Joni said.
“I think with the technology we have, every popular vote should count,” not just votes cast by Indiana’s Electoral College, she added.
John Bamman, a Catholic priest, said Monday was his day off and the only time he could vote.
“I think the tension builds with all the TV ads and I wanted to respond in a way to answer ads that I don’t like,” Bamman said. “I think as a voter you can apply good Catholic teachings, which is important in the voting process.”
April Priest of Terre Haute was the last person in line to vote Monday.
“I just worried I would not get up on time [on election day] before going to work, so I wanted to make sure I voted,” said Priest, a 2012 graduate of Indiana State University in anthropology.
Priest got in line just before noon, making the deadline to vote, but had to wait until nearly 2 p.m. before she could cast a ballot.
Early voting is down in this election compared with 2008; however, the primary reason is the lack of satellite voting sites. Vigo County had four satellite voting sites that were immensely popular with voters.
In 2008, there were 17,077 absentee ballots cast prior to the election. Of those, 14,901 ballots were cast in person at four voting sites. By contrast, this year has 4,799 in-person absentee ballots cast at the lone voting site — the Vigo County Courthouse.
Still, it is the most ever to cast a ballot at the Courthouse, a county clerk official said.
This year Republicans challenged mail-in ballots as not being reviewed by both parties. The issue was resolved when the Vigo County Election Board nominated bipartisan boards, which reviewed at least 866 ballots that had come into the county clerk’s office prior to the appointed boards.
This year there were 1,867 ballots mailed. Of those, 1,589 had been returned to the clerk’s office as of Monday. More mail-in ballots may come in today, which will be reviewed, said Vigo County Clerk Patricia Mansard.
The total number of registered voters in Vigo County is also down from four years ago. In 2008, Vigo County had 79,436 registered voters, with this year at 76,141.
The county in October reported 76,429 registered voters. But some were removed after it was discovered voters, many of which included university students, had previously registered in other counties, according to a statewide voter registration system, said Vada Long, director of the Vigo County Voter Registration office.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@