New Website Will Help Marion County Voters Know Wait Times At Early Voting Centers And On Election Day
posted: Oct. 08, 2020
Vote Safe Indiana is seeking volunteers to track wait times for Marion County voters at early voting centers and on Election Day.
People will be able to go to a new website - www.indyvotetimes.org
- to check wait times in real time, and execute a voting plan for when lines are shorter.
"We know turnout will be stronger this election year, with the possibility of long lines," said Liane Hulka, co-founder of Vote Safe Indiana. "People are nervous. Many don't have the same mail-in voting options available to them this election as they did in the primary and will be forced to vote in-person.
"Voting in Indiana is already harder than it should be," she continued. "We didn't want fear of getting sick from standing in line at the polls to disenfranchise voters from casting a ballot in this election. Furthermore, waiting in lines is a luxury for those who are not on the clock or have childcare concerns."
The website is an effort to alleviate problems that have occurred during past elections, as well as to diminish new challenges because of the pandemic.
Indiana is one of only four states that does not have no-excuse absentee voting this election. The governor and secretary of state refused to make the allowance for Hoosiers to vote by mail that they made for the June 2 primary. That means more in-person voters at early voting centers and on Election Day Nov. 3.
"We want everyone to have a voting plan," Hulka said. "The idea of being able to look for shorter wait times and reduced lines serves two purposes: It keeps the voter safer; and it prevents people from walking away from the polls without voting."
The Marion County pilot project is a joint effort by Vote Safe Indiana, Lessonly, IN Tech for Progress, and Common Cause Indiana.
"No one should have to risk their health to cast their ballot," said Julia Vaughn, policy director for Common Cause Indiana.
Employees at Lessonly, which developed the new website, wondered how they could help people vote. They connected with Vote Safe Indiana. When Hulka broached the idea of developing a website with wait times, the company's CEO Max Yoder gave his blessing.
"There are people in power doing everything they can to disenfranchise voters, especially in urban and minority communities," said Ben Kinney, solutions consultant with Lessonly. "It's happening here in Indiana too.
"We feel that assisting voters with tools like this website will help to prevent disenfranchisement," Kinney continued. "With Covid-19, it's more important than ever."
For the project to work, Vote Safe Indiana needs volunteers. That's where IN Tech for Progress came in - and created the sign-up sheets.
"We are excited to organize our community to deploy technology that can help Hoosier voters execute their voting plan," said Roger Deetz, the nonprofit organization's founder and CEO. "This moment is a prime opportunity to engage in our democracy, and I know many folks in the Indiana tech community have skills and resources that would be valuable if they were applied with focus."
Volunteers needed for early voting centers
Vote Safe Indiana is seeking volunteers to track wait times at early voting centers and on Election Day in Marion County.
"We need as many volunteers as possible to help this initiative be successful," said VSI's Hulka.
People do not have to be a Marion County resident to volunteer. The sign-up page is at www.intechforprogress.org/election2020
. Volunteers can choose by voting center, date and time.
With 28 days to vote early at various sites, volunteers are encouraged to sign up with a friend or family member for two two-hour shifts; no more than two volunteers per shift per early voting location. Training will be provided online by IN Tech for Progress; Vote Safe Indiana will provide additional voter protection information.
Early voting begins Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Indianapolis City-County Building, 200 E. Washington St., W122. It ends on Monday, Nov. 2. Days and times can be found at www.vote.indy.gov
Five additional early voting centers will open Saturday, Oct. 24, and run through Sunday, Nov. 1. Each will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends at the following locations:
- Krannert Park Community Center, 605 S. High School Road
- MSD Lawrence Administrative Building, 6501 Sunnyside Road
- Perry Township Government Center, 4925 Shelby St.
- St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 100 W. 86th St.
- Warren Township Government Center, 501 N. Post Road
Volunteers needed for Election Day
For Election Day Nov. 3, Vote Safe Indiana is seeking pairs of volunteers to work six- or 12-hour shifts at the county's 188 voting sites to track wait times. Again, training will be provided online.
The sign-up page for Election Day volunteers is at www.intechforprogress.org/election2020. Volunteers can choose by polling place and shift - 6 a.m. to noon; noon to 6 p.m., or all day (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
Voters also can help report wait times
Marion County voters also can report wait times, after they vote, in real time by logging in to the new website at www.indyvotetimes.org
Voters can cast their votes Nov. 3 at any of the 188 vote centers in the county - a change from four years ago, when people had to cast their votes at their precinct polling places.
All voters are required to wear a mask at all times, and to keep a safe distance from others when possible when voting in person.
"This year, people seem to be energized about the election," Common Cause's Vaughn said. "I'm glad we can team up to make voting more convenient and safer. Anything we can do to ease the anxiety."