MADISON COUNTY, Ind. — We are working to get answers for the voters who waited upwards of 6 hours to cast their ballot in Madison county.
The last voter in the county cast their ballot just before 1 Wednesday morning. The clerk tells us that poll workers didn’t leave the courthouse until after 3 a.m.
The clerk tells us she received calls from the governor’s office and the secretary of state wondering what in the world is happening in Madison County. That’s because this county of 91,000 registered voters, much smaller than Marion county, was the last in the state to wrap-up voting.
“I originally planned on going before I went to work. Got up around 5:30, went there right around 6 and there was a line around the building,” said Madison County Voter, Tristan Smith.
Smith knew he’d be late to work so he decided to try again after he got off.
“I just decided to leave work early…got in line at 5:50, didn’t get out of line until 10:50. That’s when I cast my ballot,” said Smith.
He waited for a total of 5 hours. And he wasn’t the only one. It was the same case at the other 40 polling locations in the county.
“It’s really disappointing. You should be making it easier to vote not harder,” said Smith.
Madison County was initially set to operate as a super precinct running fewer polling sites with a large number of machines at each site.
But commissioners Mike Phipps and President Kelly Gaskill backed out right before the primaries. At that point the county was left in limbo, stuck with 170 machines for 40 polling sites for thousands of voters.
At Summerlake Clubhouse, we learned, there were only three machines, voters there waited between 4-6 hours.
“We were left having to do a county-wide precinct-based election with less than half of the machines that we normally would have,” said Madison County Clerk, Olivia Pratt.
When the elections board tried to go through the commissioners to prevent the long waits and double the number of machines, it backfired.
“They threatened us with a lawsuit if we would do it,” said Pratt.
We have made multiple calls to Madison County Commissioners Phipps and Gaskill. Hoping to get answers as to why voters waited in long lines. We drove up and no one was in the office at this time. They are seeing people by appointment only.
“It’s a tragic situation for the voters. This is something they never should have had to experience. We’re deeply sorry. We tried our hardest,” said Pratt.
Voters sent a message to the commissioners who left them standing outside for hours to exercise their right.
“Do better. Realistically that’s it. That’s short and simple,” said Smith.
Smith says he witnessed several voters getting out of the line because of the long wait.
Gaskill sent a statement saying in part — the number of machines needs to be reviewed and multiple early voting locations should be part of future discussions. Phipps has not responded to our calls or e-mails.