UPDATED: Polling site will NOT be open an extra 30 minutes after early morning glitch

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Wayne County Election Board has voted to extend one Wayne County vote center for 30 minutes on Tuesday night, but that did not get approved by a judge.

Election officials had a problem getting voting machines to work when the vote center opened at 6 a.m. at Mt. Olive Baptist Church, 1108 N. H St. in Richmond.

It was eventually determined a bent prong in a cord kept the machines from working for approximately 26 minutes.

About a dozen voters left during that time, according to the inspector and poll watcher on site, although no one appeared to be upset.

A couple of voters said they would go to First English Lutheran Church on Richmond’s east side, and many of the others said they would come back later to try again. All Indiana polling places are to close at 6 p.m., but if any voter is standing in line at 6 p.m., the voting center must stay open as long as it takes for anyone waiting to cast their ballots.

A motion to extend Mount Olive was made by Martha Jones, president of the election board, who serves as the local Democratic Party representative, and Republican representative Barry Ritter, as well as Wayne County Clerk Debra Berry.

Jones said she doesn’t know if the affected voters will return, but they can only hope they will come back.

One other vote center had a problem at the opening time, but the election board did not pass a motion to extend its voting time.
That problem occurred at Hagerstown’s New Testament Church. Poll workers had trouble getting the driver’s license scanner to work for about 15 minutes when they opened at 6 a.m.

However, all of the 20 affected voters agreed to wait, and all of their ballots were cast by 6:45 a.m.

Jones made a motion to extend the Hagerstown’s vote center hours by 15 minutes, but that motion died for lack of a second.

Last week, Hagerstown’s vote center also had a delay on its first day of operation, Oct. 26. In that situation, voters were ready to vote at 10 a.m.; however, due to an error by the clerk’s office, voting was delayed by 58 minutes.

The Democratic Party statement said that some voters left on that day without being able to cast their ballot.
Berry responded by saying that the in-person absentee ballot forms were inadvertently left out of the inspector’s bag and when the forms were discovered missing, efforts immediately began to have them delivered to the vote center.

Berry said the onsite inspector informed the waiting voters of the time it would take for the forms to arrive and offered them the opportunity to wait, leave and vote at another vote center such as Golay Center, or to leave and return another day.
The forms were delivered as soon as possible, Berry said, and voting progressed unhindered.

“Two times in one election is two too many,” Jones said. “You never know what is going to happen, but at least they fixed it pretty quickly.”

The election board met at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Wayne County’s Voter Registration office at the courthouse to make its decision.

In a nearby room, six counters were recording mail-in ballots. They started counting at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The counters are three Republicans and three Democrats. They were appointed by their party chairmen and approved by the election board. Counters must be appointed for every election.

Although she has been inside the courthouse Tuesday where no voting is taking place, Jones is pleased by reports of high voter turnout this year.

“The weather is a big surprise – you always think it will be raining and snowing,” she said. “It’s a perfect day.”

Rachel Sheeley contributed to this article.

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