Austin Drummond of Seymour was happy to be voting for the first time on Tuesday, but he has more to celebrate than being able to help choose his country’s leaders.
Drummond stopped to vote at the polling site at The Point Family Center in Seymour to vote and was up front about it being the first time he voted. He asked some questions, but poll workers got him set up, and he cast his ballot, something he said might not have happened at all several months ago.
Several months ago Drummond was hit by a car, leaving him with a broken leg among other injuries.
During a medical examination after the incident, it was discovered he had a brain tumor, which also was causing deafness in one ear.
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In March, the tumor was removed. That tumor, Drummond said, fell just .2 ounces short of breaking a record for the type it was.
“A doctor told me if they hadn’t taken it out, six months later I would have just been sitting at home and fallen over dead of an aneurysm,” Drummond said, meaning that his first chance to vote would have never happened.
Drummond said he is still recovering from the surgery but is getting better all the time.
A ripped ballot caused a voting machine to jam and go down at Calvary Baptist Church on Tuesday morning, leading some voters to be concerned about whether their vote counted.
Michelle Allen, judge at the Redding and Jackson 1 East precincts, said people need not worry because all the ballots would be run through the machine after a technician fixed the problem.
In the meantime, the ballots, both paper and electronic, were being fed into the back of the machine to be held in an auxiliary bin.
“They aren’t being counted, but they are still in a locked and secured place,” Allen said. “When our technician comes and gets the errors off the machine, then we will take the ballots out of the auxiliary and run them through so they are counted.”
While Allen and fellow poll worker Dwight Gregory attempted to dislodge the paper jam themselves, a line of people formed waiting to submit their ballots.
The voter whose electronic ballot slip ripped in half after she placed it in the machine was asked to vote again because her original ballot was voided, Allen said.
A ripped ballot and jammed voting machine weren’t the only mishaps at the polling site Tuesday. Upon arrival at the church on Ewing Street, some voters were welcomed by the sight of an ambulance with its lights on.
Down but not out
An elderly man fell outside the church, hitting his head, before ever making it in to vote. He was taken to the hospital for treatment and observation.
“I sure hope he can get back here to vote if he wants to,” Allen said.
Another voter complained about campaign workers outside the church taking too much of people’s time talking to them and trying to get them to vote for a particular candidate.
Despite those problems, Allen said voter turnout at the site was “astronomical.”
By noon, more than 500 people had voted.
“I’ve worked here the past three or four elections, and it’s never been that big,” she said.
Allen said she didn’t expect the number of people coming in to slow down much throughout the day.
“We’ll probably be nonstop like we have been, no breaks,” she said. “We’ll be busy until 6 p.m.”
She also thought people were being more tactical about their choices and taking more time to make a decision.
“I’ve heard people say that this election is critical, so they are really focused on what they are doing,” she said.
At least one Hamilton Township voter was so eager to vote Tuesday morning that the voter tried to open the door to the polling site at 10 minutes to 6.
“We said ‘Nope, 10 more minutes,” Judge Jodi Mellencamp said later in the morning from the polling site at Hamilton Township Fire Station.
“When they came in, the shoot was full at 6 o’clock,” she said. That was about 50 people, said Mellencamp, who has been a poll worker for more than 20 years. Voting remained steady throughout the morning, and by 11:30 a.m., 397 voters, or 31 percent of 1,273 in the precinct, had cast ballots.
Mellencamp said that’s the heaviest turnout she could recall over the years.
“Definitely a unique election here,” she said.
Mellencamp said that a little before 6 p.m., poll workers would make sure anyone just arriving to get inside the building so they could vote because she didn’t want anyone to not have a chance to vote.
“You have to be inside before 6 p.m.,” she said.
Betty McCleary, the judge at Redding West precinct at Peter’s Switch Church of the Nazarene, said turnout was as heavy as she could remember. At 11 a.m., 317, or 29 percent of the precinct’s 1,078 registered voters, had cast ballots.
Voter turnout appears to be heavy at some polling sites in Jackson County, and others are reporting a steady stream of people coming in to cast their ballots.
Through 9 a.m., turnout at Jackson 2 East and Jackson 2 West and Jackson 6 precincts was 299 voters at The Point Family Center on Seymour’s east side, according to poll worker Matt Nicholson.
Jackson County Clerk Amanda Lowery reported there were about 20 people in line at the Jackson County Courthouse at 6 a.m., when voting began. The courthouse serves voters in Brownstown 1, Brownstown 2 and Brownstown 4 precincts.
“There have been steady lines here with an occasional break, so poll workers can take a quick break,” she said.
Lowery said there was a problem with a voting machine at Peter’s Switch Church of the Nazarene, where Redding West precinct votes.
“The mechanic went up and got it rolling,” she said.
Rick Godsey of Seymour said when he went to vote at the American Legion polling site there were 12 people ahead of him.
That was at 10 minutes to six, he said.
Godsey said another 40 or so came after him, but voting only took about 30 minutes.
He said as always he voted straight Democrat.
“It makes it easier,” he said.
The biggest issue today has been dealing with first-time voters or those who have not voted in a long time and don’t know where they are supposed to vote, Lowery said, and those who submitted voter registration applications online after the Oct. 11 deadline.
Those people are not eligible to vote until their applications are processed when voter registration opens again Dec. 1, she said.