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New website shows wait times for polling places in Marion County

With the help of volunteers and voters alike, a new website will give Marion County residents wait times at polling places in real-time.
Indiana Democratic Party says text messages with incorrect polling place info caused by system error
Posted at 1:45 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-08 13:55:55-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Vote Safe Indiana announced Thursday a new website that tracks wait times for Marion County polling places in real-time.

Indy Vote Times will be clocking current wait times at voting centers across the county to help alleviate long lines as soon as Saturday, Oct. 24.

With an even bigger voter turnout expected this year, Vote Safe Indiana wanted to make sure people knew their options and what the lines would look like even before leaving their front door.

“People are nervous," Liane Hulka, co-founder of Vote Safe Indiana, said. "Many don’t have the same mail-in voting options available to them this election as they did in the primary and will be forced to vote in-person."

“Voting in Indiana is already harder than it should be,” Hulka continued. “We didn't want fear of getting sick from standing in line at the polls to disenfranchise voters from casting a ballot in this election. Furthermore, waiting in lines is a luxury for those who are not on the clock or have childcare concerns.”

The website is a collaborative effort between VSI, Lessonly, IN Tech for Progress, and Common Cause Indiana.

Lessonly, which developed the new website, was looking for a way to ease the process of voting when they reached out to VSI. That's when the idea of the website came about.

“There are people in power doing everything they can to disenfranchise voters, especially in urban and minority communities,” Ben Kinney, a solutions consultant with Lessonly, said. “It’s happening here in Indiana too."

The launch of the Indy Vote Times website, however, will not be possible without the help of community members willing to volunteer some time and also voters.

“We need as many volunteers as possible to help this initiative be successful," Hulka said.

Indiana is one of only four states that does not have no-excuse absentee voting in this election. This means there is potential for more in-person voters at early voting centers and on Election Day.

“This moment is a prime opportunity to engage in our democracy, and I know many folks in the Indiana tech community have skills and resources that would be valuable if they were applied with focus,” Roger Deetz, the CEO of IN Tech for Progress, said.

“We want everyone to have a voting plan,” Hulka said. “The idea of being able to look for shorter wait times and reduced lines serves two purposes: It keeps the voter safer; and it prevents people from walking away from the polls without voting.”

What to know if you're interested in volunteering to track wait times

  • People do not have to be a Marion County resident to volunteer.
  • The sign-up page is at www.intechforprogress.org/election2020 .
  • Volunteers can choose by the voting center, date, and time.
  • Volunteers are encouraged to sign up with a friend or family member for two two-hour shifts; no more than two volunteers per shift per early voting location.
  • Training will be provided online by IN Tech for Progress; Vote Safe Indiana will provide additional voter protection information.
  • For Election Day Nov. 3, pairs of volunteers can work six- or 12-hour shifts at the county’s 188 voting sites to track wait times.

Marion County voters also can report wait times, after they vote, in real-time by logging in to the new website.

“This year, people seem to be energized about the election,” Vaughn said. “I’m glad we can team up to make voting more convenient and safer. Anything we can do to ease the anxiety.”

Early voting begins Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Indianapolis City-County Building, 200 E. Washington St., W122. It ends on Monday, Nov. 2. Days and times can be found at www.vote.indy.gov.

Five additional early voting centers will open Saturday, Oct. 24, and run through Sunday, Nov. 1. Each will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends at the following locations:

  • Krannert Park Community Center, 605 S. High School Road
  • MSD Lawrence Administrative Building, 6501 Sunnyside Road
  • Perry Township Government Center, 4925 Shelby St.
  • St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 W. 86th St.
  • Warren Township Government Center, 501 N. Post Road

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the website goes live on Oct. 6, when it should have said Oct. 24.