Steady stream of voters at the polls

Jackson County voters made it to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots in the 2022 general election.

Registered voters had seven vote centers in the county to choose from to cast their ballots for local, state and congressional seats up for election.

It was the second election in the county to use vote centers. Instead of voters going to a polling place within their voting precinct, they could vote at any vote center within the county.

Incorporating vote centers also means voters must use an electronic voting machine that will print out a paper ballot with readable lines of who they voted for.

There were seven vote centers in Jackson County: Three in Seymour and one in each of Brownstown, Medora, Crothersville and Freetown.

At the Calvary Baptist Church vote center in Seymour, judges Cindy Ruddick and Kathi Hackney were signing the back of the tickets Tuesday morning before voters could run them through the ballot machine because a judge from each party must sign the tickets first.

One of the other judges at the church was Bridey Jacobi, who said part of her job is helping voters get set up on the machines and making sure the precincts are right.

Judge Paul Kedrowitz said he thought at first, having the the new vote centers was just a little but confusing, but he also said the old way, it was sometimes slow. But now, they keep pretty busy on Election Day, and several times Tuesday morning, all of the voting machines were occupied at once.

Voting site inspector Dwight Gregory said normally, there are about five volunteers who work at that voting location, but this time, they had 11 workers since becoming a vote center.

“Since they’ve combined them, it’s a little more work, but it’s a lot better because it makes it more convenient for people,” Gregory said. “If someone works at Columbus, they can swing by here and vote on their way to work, and as long as they’re registered to vote in this county, people can go to any of the vote centers here.”

Gregory said he has been helping at the polling sites for around 10 years because he enjoys it and gets to see a lot of people he wouldn’t ordinarily get to see when they come in to vote. Some of them he hasn’t seen since high school.

“This morning, there has been a steady flow and it hasn’t really backed off at all, and before we opened, there was a line out the door,” he said. “When I’ve done this before, our top count was over 500 a couple of times, but today, we’ll get that number easy.”

Gregory’s father, Hubert Gregory, served as a clerk at the vote center and helped people sign in.

“They’ve put a lot of the precincts together now, and it’s easier to check people in with the electronics they’ve got anymore, but it can get a little crazy,” Hubert said.

Other clerks at the registration table were Carolyn McElhany, James Harvey and Mary Sullivan.

Andrew Botkin stopped by the church to vote Tuesday morning after driving by his former voting location, Zion Lutheran Church, which is no longer a voting site.

“I looked online and saw this was a vote center, which doesn’t really make it any easier or harder for me, but I always vote,” Botkin said.

A steady stream of voters was heading into the Jackson County Learning Center in Seymour to vote on Tuesday morning, too.

One of the judges there, Dovie Stidham, said she and her two sisters were all helping out there for Election Day in different capacities.

Jannie Stidham was the inspector at the vote center, and the third sister, Carolyn Weddle, was working as a clerk at the registration table.

Dovie said she has been helping at the polls for years, and she said they had been really busy so far with voters coming in.

“It might be busy because we’re a vote center, but I’d like to think it’s because people want to come out and vote,” she said.

Jannie said she thought they had a few extra voting machines this time around and thought the process had been a little bit better with the designated vote centers.

“A line was outside before the polls even opened, and by 9:30 a.m., we’ve already had over 250 people come in to cast their votes,” she said.

It was Claudia Mager’s first time to work at the polls, and she was helping out as a clerk. She said part of the reason she was there was to stay busy during retirement.

“I’ve been wanting to do this, and my mom used to do it all the time in Virginia,” she said. “Learning what to do was pretty simple, and they gave us some education on it about a week ago, and I’m working with some seasoned vets.”

Also serving as clerks with Mager were Shelley Whitcomb, Weddle and Cheryl Vierling.

Jackson County Election Board member Pat Bahan was making the rounds to the various vote centers in the county Tuesday morning and stopped by the learning center.

Bahan said he was very happy with the voter turnout, but he did have a concern about the vote centers.

“I’ve ran into a lot of people who didn’t know where to go, and I want us to look for new ways of trying to get that information out to people before the next election cycle,” Bahan said. “This morning when I pulled into the courthouse, I spent several minutes each time going in or out telling people the voting was no longer there, it’s at the vote centers.”

He said he has filled in for workers at some of the various polling sites in recent weeks where some people had expressed they’d have difficulty finding out where to go to vote.

“Apparently, people haven’t gotten the word about the Indiana government site online, and that’s something I think we can do a better job of educating the public over the next two years,” Bahan said. “That’s generally something that should happen statewide, but we need to do something, as well, for the convenience and comfort of our own community.”

The website with Indiana vote center information is