The window for early voting across Indiana has ended. The polling alternative, which allows folks with chaotic schedules or severe health conditions to cast their ballot before Election Day, has increased in popularity over the years. So much so, the line inside the County City Building in South Bend carried a 90 minute wait by late Monday morning.
"I’ve been in line for an hour-and-a-half! It's not bad; I mean it's worth it, but I'm a pretty patient person,” South Bend voter Zuri Arriaga said with a laugh.
"I work twelve hours at the hospital tomorrow so I knew I wouldn't get out to vote. So, I wanted to vote today to get it over with,” New Carlisle resident Barbara Allen mentioned.
The option, which is not available in Michigan, has nearly quadrupled in turnout across St. Joseph County, during the last two weeks.
On Oct. 16, the St. Joseph County Clerk's Office had received 5,726 ballots; by Oct. 24, that figure had grown to 10,608. Then on Nov. 1, it reached 17,702 and by close of absentee polls Monday, the total early voting count sat at 22,474 within Indiana’s fifth most populated county.
"I was overwhelmed, I wasn't expecting it, and I was totally caught off-guard. I was thinking I would just run in and run out, but it's worth the wait I guess,” South Bend voter Tiffany Morgan added.
But was early voting worth the wait for everyone in St. Joseph County? Not record-worthy according to the clerk’s office.
In the 2000 presidential election, 9,251 people in St. Joseph County voted before Election Day. By 2004 that number rose to 14,280. Prompted by then presidential candidate Barack Obama’s electric campaign, the number of early ballots jumped to a record 28,813 in 2008. This year however, turnout is down about 22-percent, sitting at 22,474 votes heading into Election Day 2012.
For Hoosier voters, polls are open Tuesday Nov. 6. from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. EST. And don't forget to bring photo identification.
In Michigan times run a little later, open from 7 a.m. through 8 p.m. EST. You'll be asked to show your photo ID or sign an affidavit should you not have identification on you.
"This moment is too important to not be a part of it. I wouldn't feel good about myself if I didn't cast my vote one way or the other because it's that essential,” longtime South Bend voter Naydene Paysoure concluded.