County prepares for Election Day

HANCOCK COUNTY — Local election officials are taking extra steps to prepare for the November election after big crowds, equipment failures and other issues jammed up polling places across the county in last month’s primary.

John Apple, the Republican representative on the Hancock County Election Board, recently asked the county commissioners for approval to establish two new vote centers and purchase $120,000 in additional polling equipment. Both requests were granted unanimously.

The McCordsville branch of the Hancock Wellness Center, 8505 N. Clearview Drive, and the New Palestine Community Room, 42 E. Main St., will serve as the additional sites, bringing the county’s total to 14 vote centers.

The bulk of the equipment purchase will be put toward a $110,000 scanner that will be used on election night to tally early voting ballots.

During last month’s election, voters stood in lines stretching out the entrances of several voting centers across the county well past 6 p.m., when polls close.

Nearly 22,000 residents cast ballots in the primary election — a significant spike over the 2012 presidential primary, when 13,400 voters came out. Though the majority of local candidates — most of whom are Republican — are advancing to the November election, uncontested, county officials said they expect the November election, which will decide the future U.S. president, will draw out a higher number of voters than last month’s primary.

County commissioner Tom Stevens said he expects the efforts will speed up voting significantly on Election Day, which falls Nov. 8.

Apple said he expects the equipment upgrade will make counting votes easier for poll workers on election night as well.

Early voting results were delayed by hours on primary election night last month, largely because several voters didn’t properly fill out ballots properly.

Though many of the errors were caused by simple mistakes — mainly voters who failed to completely fill in the bubbles on their ballot forms, leaving check marks instead — it left election workers to tally those results by hand, Apple said.

The new scanner is capable of properly processing ballots with simple errors like those seen during last month’s election, Apple said.

The remainder of the approved purchases — approximately $10,000 — will be put toward equipment rentals, including wireless routers, printers and voting software for the additional vote centers.

Apple said the election board also plans to expand capacity at the county fairgrounds voting site, including the possibility of adding poll workers to speed up lines, though the board still hasn’t decided the specifics.

County commissioner Brad Armstrong, who won his bid for re-election in last month’s primary election, said he anticipates the effort to ramp up capacity will help ensure operations run smoothly for voters and election workers alike in November.

Where to vote Nov. 8

The Hancock County Election Board recently established two additional voting centers in Hancock County.

The county’s vote centers for the Nov. 8 election now include:

Hancock Wellness Center (McCordsville branch), 8505 N. Clearview Drive, McCordsville

New Palestine Community Room, 42 E. Main St., New Palestine

Hancock County Courthouse Annex, 111 American Legion Way, Greenfield

Bell Mortuary, 1512 W. U.S. 52, Fountaintown

Brown’s Chapel Wesleyan Church, 994 N. County Road 600E, Greenfield

Cross of Grace Lutheran Church, 3519 S. County Road 600W, New Palestine

4-H Fairgrounds, 620 Apple St., Greenfield

Fortville Community Center, 400 Church St., Fortville

Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie, Greenfield

McCordsville Town Hall, 6280 W. County Road 800N, McCordsville

NineStar Connect, 2331 E. County Road 600N, Greenfield

Vineyard Community Church, 1672 N. County Road 600W, Greenfield

Washington Village Apartments, 4211 Potomac Drive, Greenfield

Wilkinson Church of Christ, 7293 N. State Road 109, Wilkinson

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Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or dmorgan@greenfieldreporter.com.