Person after person commented on how surprisingly smooth in-person voting went at the Owensboro Sportscenter during Tuesday’s Primary Election — and many thought it should be considered as an option in future elections.
There was a steady stream of voters throughout the 12-hour voting period, and many people were in and out in 5 minutes or less. With 10 check-in stations and 60 booths set up for voters, there was essentially no wait time aside from the small group that arrived before doors opened at 6 a.m.
Roughly 4,200 Daviess County residents voted in person (initial results can be found here). Reasoning for voting in person ranged from not trusting the mail-in process to not receiving their absentee ballot to simply enjoying the traditional method.
“I just feel more confident voting in person,” said Richard O’Bryan. “It’s more traditional.”
Regardless of why they voted in person, everyone seemed to agree the process went much easier than expected.
“It took me about 5 minutes,” O’Bryan said. “It’s organized — a lot of volunteers directing you where to go. I think it’s an excellent example (for the future). I thought it would be smaller, but this is really big. It was quick and smooth and there’s no lines. I’ve done them before and there’s been less booths and less volunteers, but it went well.”
Christina Muffett said she expected a long wait time when she drove up to the Sportscenter, but she was pleasantly surprised when she walked in.
“This was quick and easy. I loved it,” Muffett said. “I saw all the cars out in the parking lot and assumed I was going to be here but I was in and out. This is nice.”
County Clerk Leslie McCarty said having such a large staff all in one place helped make sure everything was running correctly. In addition to 26 poll workers, officials with the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office and the Kentucky National Guard were on site. Staff at the Sportscenter were also there to lend a hand.
“We’ve been really blessed and fortunate to have as much help as we have, good staff and poll workers,” she McCarty said. “The setup is really smooth and people have been giving a lot of compliments on how easy this has been. Of course, there is not a lot on the ballot, either. If it was a longer ballot it might be more of an intense process.”
Terry Cook, who has been checking people in at voting precincts for about 13 years, said the single location helped contain the crowd, making for an easy day.
“It ran smooth today, a whole lot better than it does at the precincts,” he said. “It’s a bigger area, and we have more control of the people. I think everybody was pretty content. There were a lot of people that told us they’d rather do it this way from now on.”
Gayle Taylor, who normally is a judge for her precinct but on Tuesday helped make sure voters placed their ballot in the machine correctly, said she was surprised how efficient everything went.
“They had it set up very well,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for eight or nine years. The precinct that I’ve always worked in has been kind of small so it ran very well. I’m really impressed about this. The voters didn’t have to wait. There weren’t long lines.”
All of the in-person votes were tallied Tuesday night, though official results won’t be made public until June 30 due to the high number of absentee ballots. In total, 18,700 absentee ballots were requested by Daviess County residents. Approximately 13,000 of those have been returned — 6,000 of which were processed Tuesday night. Absentee ballots can be received until June 27.
Though it was only a Primary Election, several people stressed the importance of exercising the right to vote.
“It’s my civil duty to do so,” said Glenn Helwig. “With the way society is today, we need to vote.”
Nick Ivey said it will be even more important this November in the general election.
“I think it’s going to be a monumental vote whichever way it goes,” he said. “Every single person needs to get out and vote, whichever choice that is. We need to make sure we try to accommodate everybody.”