Voting holds steady in Elkhart as polls near closing time
Posted: 11/06/2012 at 5:00 pm
By: Tim Vandenack
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Harrison Township voter Eleanor Schrock, left, helps poll worker Barbra Berkey, right, find her name as she checks in to vote at the Harrison Township fire station Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Elkhart County residents are going to the polls to wrap up the 2012 campaign. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
“It’s been pretty steady all day,” said Darrin Wilcox, inspector at the Concord 16 precinct at the Pierre Moran Park Pavilion.
Likewise, issues with voters not knowing where to vote because of changes implemented earlier this year in some voting precincts persist. “It’s been steady through the day,” said Elkhart County Clerk Wendy Hudson.
Polls opened at 6 a.m. today, Nov. 6, and they close at 6 p.m. Poll workers and others say voters have been streaming in throughout the day.
With the changes in many voting precincts, implemented ahead of the May primary, it’s hard to gauge exactly how strong turnout is, said Dale Stickel, chairman of the Elkhart County Republican party. Since some precinct boundaries changed, comparisons at individual polling sites to turnout four years ago, the last presidential election year, aren’t necessarily accurate.
At any rate, Stickel suspects turnout is at least on par with 2008.
Shari Mellin, head of the Elkhart County Democratic Party, said turnout seemed to be strong at her voting precinct in Osolo Township and she thinks is was pretty solid through the county.
That said, if early voting figures are any indication, turnout could be down compared to four years ago. Elkhart County Clerk’s Office officials report that 10,247 people cast early ballots, mainly by in-person early voting or via mail-in ballots, down from 11,356 in 2008.
As for the issues with voters going to incorrect polling places — those have generally been pretty easy to remedy. Randy Bailey, inspector at the Concord 21 precinct at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary on the south side of Elkhart, said it’s a matter of calling the main election headquarters office in Goshen and double-checking voters’ addresses with the master list and sending them to the correct location.
The boundaries of some precincts were redrawn per population shifts in Elkhart County that came out in the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau head count. Moreover, seven new precincts were added, bringing the total to 117, and the names of some were changed.
The changes were in effect for last May’s primary and the clerk’s office mailed out notices to all registered voters before that vote advising them of the changes.