Wayne County voters turned out in what could be record numbers for a midterm election.
“We had a great turnout. I think we set a record for midterm elections in Wayne County with our turnout,” Wayne County Clerk Debra Berry said.
“I’d like to say thanks to all the poll workers and staff. Without all those behind-the-scenes people, we couldn’t have fair and balanced elections,” Berry said.
There were no major problems on Election Day, and the longest wait at a Wayne County vote center during the day was probably 30 to 60 minutes.
The only issue, Berry said, was with other agencies now registering voters, there have been some “hiccups” in voters being registered accurately. Berry said there were a few voters who claimed to be registered, but who didn’t show up immediately in voter records and some research was needed.
Occasional short lines for were moving quickly Tuesday afternoon at Golay Community Center in Cambridge City, and a few voting booths were usually always available.
Voters shared a variety of viewpoints Tuesday after casting their ballots at Golay.
Lance Vitatoe of Milton said one positive of this election is higher voter turnout. He says the country needs more people getting involved, and hopes interest in voting will continue.
“When your side is winning, people don’t always get out and vote,” Vitatoe said. “Whether your side is winning or not, I think it’s important to practice your civic duty and vote.”
Vitatoe said issues that influenced his voting this year were immigration, the economy and Second Amendment gun rights. He said he always votes, but especially in this political environment, he thought it was important to have his voice heard.
“Everything is so partisan, and I’m unhappy with the discourse in America and that everyone is so uncivil,” Vitatoe said. “I would like to return to civility and that it’s OK to disagree and not look at the other side as the enemy, that we’re all Americans.
“It seems no matter which party is ruling, there’s so much vitriol,” Vitatoe said.
He noted that some people were unhappy when Barack Obama was president, and some people are now unhappy with Donald Trump as president. Vitatoe would like to see leaders lower the tone of their rhetoric.
“No one can get 100 percent of their way,” Vitatoe said. “We need to realize everyone can’t have their way. We’re all still Americans.”
Vitatoe and his wife, Cindy, stopped in Cambridge City to vote after he concluded his rural mail route.
This year’s election also drew Shawna Stevens of Centerville, who works in Cambridge City. She said she hasn’t voted in a decade, but heard this election was a big deal and she might as well join the crowd.
Stevens became frustrated with voting when she lived in Florida and she was sent away because she wasn’t at the right polling place, and she didn’t like the long paper ballots. She was pleased to vote electronically in Wayne County.
She also likes the flexible locations, saying it was more convenient to be able to vote on her lunch break, and she couldn’t miss hours of work to vote.
Stevens said when researching candidates and issues online, she said it was difficult to find information. She said she has six kids at home and not much time to spend on research.
“It was a lot of opinion and not a lot of facts about who’s running and what they’re trying to do,” Stevens said.
Jerry Isaacs of Pennville said he’s tired of the Joe Donnelly and Mike Braun ads for U.S. Senate, and called the candidates “two-headed snakes.”
Isaacs said he voted straight Libertarian.
“I don’t drink Coke or Pepsi – I drink something in between,” Isaacs said.
No matter who voters supported, Golay’s vote center inspector, Doris Williams, said voting was going smoothly Tuesday with a nice turnout.
Election Day is a long day for poll workers, who have to be on site at 5 a.m. before vote centers open at 6 a.m. Vote centers close at 6 p.m., but anyone standing in line at that time may still cast a ballot, which can delay the closing.
After the vote center shuts down, Williams and a judge of the opposite party will head for the Wayne County Courthouse in Richmond with the machine that will be used to count the votes that were cast at Golay.
Ronnie and Wilda Jackson of Pershing were among those who cast their ballots Tuesday in Cambridge City.
They said they like the convenience of vote centers, noting it’s less difficult than trying to go to an assigned precinct voting location, especially when working out of town as Wilda did at Richmond State Hospital.
The Jacksons waited to vote until after Tuesday’s lunchtime crowd cleared.
“We’re just doing our civic duty,” Wilda said. “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”
Some voters at New Testament Church of Christ in Hagerstown said they want some changes, while others wanted to support the president.
Ashley Miller of Hagerstown brought her son, Brayden, 3, with her to the polls.
A regular voter, Miller said cast her ballot Tuesday “because we need changes in government. We need less government.”
Miller was particularly interested in the Nettle Creek school board races, among local races.
“There’s a lot going on at that level that needs some changes,” Miller said.
Doug and Teena Dale of Hagerstown also are regular voters who cast their ballots Tuesday at the Hagerstown vote center.
“It was important to me to support our president … so he can do the job that he was elected to do in the first place,” Doug Dale said.
Dale said he wanted to give President Donald Trump the support and people he needs. His wife agreed that was her mission with her national votes.
On the local level, the Nettle Creek school board races were their top interest, particularly because Teena Dale works for the schools.
“There just needs to be some change. It’s time for change,” Teena Dale said.
This is the first year Nettle Creek school corporation voters had the option of voting on At-Large seats since the representation on the board was reconfigured to add several at-large seats in addition to specific districts.
Voters could choose two at-large candidates from among six.
“It’s good to have a bigger choice,” Teena Dale said.
Cathy Vandivier, inspector at the Hagerstown vote center, said 916 people cast ballots at the location during early voting, and more than 600 had voted by 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. Vandivier was hoping to gain 300 more voters by the 6 p.m. poll close.
‘We’ve had a lot of young people, first-time voters,” Vandivier said. “We love it.”
She said the Hagerstown vote center had enough voters to run out of “I voted” stickers and when they sought more from the Wayne County Voter Registration office, it was out of stickers, too.
– By Millicent Martin Emery and Rachel Sheeley