These are based on my experience at the Perry Township Government Center in Indianapolis. Marion County in particular is woefully unprepared for the amount of in-person absentee voters. I waited three hours to vote. Other people waited eight, and I can only imagine how many people were dissuaded from voting by the line. I honestly don’t know if everyone in this county who needs to vote early is going to get to vote. I don’t know if everyone will get to vote on election day, either.
Voting facilities probably (hopefully) are better in other areas of the country. If you’re in Indianapolis, or another area where the waits are imposing, here’s some tips to help deal with the situation.
1. Don’t wait for a ‘good time’ to vote.
I went on a Monday morning, hoping that most people would be at work and the lines would be short. They may have been shorter than on the weekend, but they were still long. I arrived at 10 (an hour before voting started, at 11), and voted around 1. When the doors opened at 11, I could not see the end of the line, and I’m sure the wait was still at least three hours for people getting in line then. Maybe there is a secret hour for fast in-person voting in Indy, but as far as I know, there’s no guarantee of fast voting before election day, and no guarantee of fast voting ON election day.
2. Wear layers and gloves.
It’s getting cold out, and you’re not moving enough to keep your digits warm from circulation. You could bring something warm to drink, but be cautious of anything that sends your bowels into overdrive.
3. Eat and use the bathroom before getting in line.
You know how bodies work. Don’t think I need to explain this one. I didn’t see public bathroom facilities at this location, though there may be some at others. If there are, make sure you’ve got someone who will hold your place in line. Also, don’t forget to bring your ID.
4. Check the weather forecast and prepare accordingly.
It started to sprinkle an hour in, and I about lost my mind. It let up almost immediately, though, fortunately.
5. Bring a book, podcasts, music, or friends.
It’s a long wait, especially standing up the whole time. Give yourself something to keep you occupied, or go with a group of friends. Some of you have friends, right?
6. Understand the surge.
When the doors open, the line moves very fast for a few minutes, then slows down to a much more moderate pace. This is mostly due to the line moving indoors. Hedge your expectations, and don’t get disappointed when things slow down again.
7. Know that social distancing isn’t necessarily happening.
People in the line are not standing 6 feet apart, and I don’t know where the line would fit if they were. People are wearing masks, but there’s a bunch of nose-peepers out there. Know whether you’re comfortable being in this close of proximity to strangers for several hours, or if you need to take greater precautions because you are at higher risk from COVID.
8. Bring a chair maybe?
I saw people with little foldable camping stools, and that seemed like the best idea ever. My back’s killing me now. Pass the ibuprofen.
9. Reward yourself after.
You’re spending a decent chunk of your day in mild discomfort to do something that maybe feels like it’s not worth it or like it has no direct impact on your life. It’s boring and annoying, like most of the other responsibilities that come with being an adult. Treat yourself to something nice, and have that to look forward to.