5/7/18, Early Voting

A worker at the Tippecanoe County election committee office helps an early voter enter their information. According to Mike Smith, a seasonal specialist with the election committee, the electronic system has been a big help for those with disabilities.

"Batter up!" Mike Smith said on the third floor of the Tippecanoe County Building as he beckoned for the next voter in line.

Smith, a seasonal specialist, said that as of 12 minutes before closing at noon Monday, election office officials had processed 151 voters.

"Coming into the weekend, we've already had 8,000 early voters," Smith said as voters filed through the door of the election committee office. "That's roughly 8,000 voters already done."

And, according to Smith, nearly 6,000, or about 30 percent of anticipated voters, chose to do their early voting at Payless grocery stores.

"They will be run tomorrow," Smith said of the polling machines from Payless. "We had eight days of early voting at four Payless (stores), which is remarkable. You hearken back to the days — remember in the 1800s where people would go down to the general store? And now we go to the grocery store.

"You know, bread, butter and ballots."

As the clocks hit noon Monday and stragglers rolled in, Smith was forced to turn away voters who showed up after deadline.

"Sorry, law says we have to close at 12," Smith said to one lady while handing her a sheet with voting spots for Election Day. Voting beings at 6 a.m. Tuesday, and locations can be found at the Tippecanoe County election committee website.

"I will say that (Tippecanoe County clerk Christa Coffey) expects 15 to 16 percent of registered voters to come out," Smith said. "I want to explain those numbers, though, because it makes the county look sad!"

Voters who have long since left the area are still in the database.

"Our registered base is inflated due to the transient nature of our community," Smith said. "We don't purge people (from our database) very often, we do it every four to five years. ... We're doing better at reaching out to people than it looks like, but it does look like a discouraging number."

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