REENFIELD — A nurse tapped on a resident’s door at Springhurst Health Campus in Greenfield on Tuesday.
Swinging the door open, Karen Rau-Hinton called inside: “Shirley, are you going to vote today, sweetheart? Today is voting day.”
Rau-Hinton repeated the action up and down the halls of Springhurst, rounding up those seniors who had expressed an interest in casting their ballots early with the help of representatives from the Hancock County Election Office.
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Municipal elections are still a week away, but members of the county’s absentee voter board have been traveling to Greenfield senior centers, assisted living facilities and the homes of incapacitated voters to help them cast their ballots.
The service is provided each election by the county clerk’s election office in partnership with the county’s Democratic and Republican parties.
About 25 Springhurst residents signed up to vote Tuesday, and dozens more from similar living centers in Greenfield have cast early ballots since the program began last week. Many seniors, including some disabled residents, sign up to have the absentee voting board visit their homes.
The county has offered the program for many years, according to Janice Jones, an election office staff member. A team of one Democrat and one Republican drives the county, helping voters who might have trouble getting to the polls on Election Day. This year, the team consists of party volunteers Margie Cotton and Earl Haywood.
The number of voters who participate varies with each election, Jones said. Presidential elections always yield more participants and require more party volunteers for the absentee voting teams.
On years when countywide elections are conducted, the teams visit all assisted living facilities in Hancock County and many more homes. This year, because only residents in Greenfield, McCordsville, Fortville and Cumberland are casting votes, only one voting team has been required, Jones said.
At senior living facilities, nurses like Rau-Hinton help residents fill out absentee voter paperwork. Rather than having the ballots mailed, as many able-bodied county residents would, absentee voting teams visit the facilities, bringing the ballots to the residents. Usually, a special table or room is set up to serve as the temporary voting center.
Springhurst has a bus that could take residents to the nearest voting center on Election Day, Rau-Hinton said, but the absentee voting board’s visits makes the process much easier.
“This is very helpful,” she said. “There is no way we could take all 25 people out (on the bus) on Election Day.”
Having a Democrat and a Republican help with absentee voting keeps the process bipartisan, said Haywood, a Democrat.
Even though politics is an interest of Haywood’s, he said these visits with voters are not times to discuss viewpoints. Instead, he and Cotton help the voters read and understand their ballots. Only Cotton and Haywood are allowed to be with the voter while they are voting; nurses and family members must leave the room unless the resident signs a consent form, Cotton said.
Wilma Kracht, a Springhurst resident, said nothing can keep her from casting her ballot, but her age has made it harder to get around town. She has used to absentee voter service for the seven years she has lived at the facility.
“I have a car, but someone else has to drive,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t know how else I would vote. This is a very nice, helpful service.”
The Hancock County Absentee Voter Board brings ballots to homebound residents so they may cast their vote. If you or someone you know is in need of the service, call 317-477-1109.