Before I describe the shit show that was election day, I’ll note that everyone at the polling location was kind and there for one reason only — to make sure every single eligible person had the opportunity to vote. Democrats and Republicans worked together. The Republican inspector was fantastic. Honestly, it was inspiring.
However, when we showed up at 5 a.m. on Election Day, we noticed many of the required election officials were missing. Two inspectors were M.I.A., and so were the ballots. We also didn’t have the required Republican and Democratic counterparts for each position. Less than an hour before the election was to start, we were unable to open — let alone guarantee a fair election. The only inspector who was there began making calls.
Two inspectors were M.I.A., and so were the ballots.
The rest of us did what we could to get ready with limited supplies and people. At 6 a.m., the ballot boxes weren’t working. Inspectors were still M.I.A. We couldn’t open. My stomach sank. I was trying to do something good and now I’d probably be on local evening news.
Finally, a sheriff’s deputy showed up with two suitcases full of ballots. (I originally mentioned on Twitter that he showed up after 6, but my husband said he thought it was actually shortly before 6. It was a hectic morning, and I apologize for the initial error.) We were still missing the required Republican and Democratic counterparts for each polling position so we improvised. We combined positions between the three precincts present and opened the polls at 6:12.
Whew, right? Not even close. It just got worse.
Shortly after we opened, voters from a fourth precinct started to show up. The newspaper had listed four precincts at our location. We knew nothing about this, and we had zero workers or ballots for a fourth precinct (we barely had what we needed for the three precincts we knew about).
I wasn’t about to let these people just walk away without getting a chance to vote, so I got on the phone and started making calls. I tried the election and voter registration office numbers. All lines were busy. I finally tried the state election hotline and was able to reach someone. They informed me that the fourth precinct was not supposed to be at my polling place. So, I began sending those voters to the right address.
The clerk’s office had listed the wrong address online. The newspaper used that misinformation in their election article. The Chesterton Tribune later published a correction:
Where is Liberty 3?
Over the last 24 hours at least three different readers have contacted the Tribune to say that the location of the Liberty 3 polling place — Liberty Township Middle School Auditorium, 50W 900N, as listed in Monday’s edition of the paper — was incorrect.
Those readers were right.
The actual location of Liberty 3 is Faith Memorial Lutheran Church, 753 N. Calumet Ave.
The Tribune, however, listed the Liberty Township Middle School Auditorium in good faith, after finding it named on the obvious place to look: the Liberty 3 precinct map on the Porter County Voter Registration’s website, under the “Forms & Precinct Maps” link, where it remained uncorrected this morning.
Voters can find the correct location of Liberty 3 — Faith Memorial Lutheran Church — but they have to look for it: first google “Porter County polling places”; then click on the top link, “Porter County, IN — Official Website — Polling Locations”; then click on “FIND YOUR POLL LOCATION. CLICK HERE.”
In other words, the Clerk’s Office has listed, in two different places, two different addresses for Liberty 3.
Everything should have been okay then, right? Uh, no.
I soon learned the new location for the fourth precinct wasn’t open. Poll workers were in the parking lot, locked out. So, they turned voters away. Voters — many of whom I’d turned away — started coming back to our location, desperate to vote. I finally reached someone at the local level and told them about the locked polling location. By this time, it was 6:56 a.m. (nearly an hour after polls opened), and the official I spoke to was hearing about this issue for the first time.
It was later reported that the locked location opened at 7:45 a.m., along with eleven other locations in the county that opened at least an hour late. That doesn’t even include locations like ours that opened approximately 15 minutes late.