AP NEWS

Time to ‘make a difference’

November 8, 2016

As the hours to today’s election dwindled, statewide gu­ber­na­tor­ial candidates Monday made swings through Fort Wayne, while residents hunkered down for a long wait in the last remaining early-voting line.

Democrat John Gregg thanked election workers during a 10 a.m. stop at the Gregg for Governor field office at 7301 Decatur Road. Republican Eric Holcomb made his final local push at 9:15 a.m. at Don Hall’s restaurant on Bluffton Road.

By 10 a.m. Monday, the line for early voting snaked through the lobby at Rousseau Centre downtown, out the door, down the length of the building to the east, across the patio and up its other side. The last voters were within a few feet of the steps of the sidewalk on Calhoun Street.

Those waiting said it took nearly an hour and a half to vote – once you were inside the building. Several, including David Bessesen of Fort Wayne, said it wasn’t their first time in an early-voting line.

“I tried (to early vote) four times at the Georgetown library. The line was always long,” the 52-year-old said, adding he has to work on Election Day.

“It’s now or never,” he said.

Rosamaria Zizumbo, 21, of Fort Wayne said she tried to vote Friday but after waiting 45 minutes had to leave. She’d been waiting an hour Monday and was still outside. But, she said, she wanted to vote “to make a difference.”

Election officials said at least 30,000 of the estimated 277,000 Allen County voters had voted early. Many went to four satellite sites set up at the Georgetown, Aboite, Dupont and Hessen Cassel branches of the Allen County Public Library.

Amy Scrogham, assistant director of the election board, said Monday total turnout of 65 percent was expected before polls close at 6 p.m. today.

Early voting ended at the Rousseau Centre at noon Monday. But anyone in line at that time would be able to vote, officials said. Those in line at 6 p.m. today also will be able to cast ballots.

Voters will choose not only the next U.S. president and vice president, but also the governor and lieutenant governor of Indiana, one U.S. senator, the state attorney general and state education department head, U.S. representative in District 3 and several state representatives.

At the local level, an Allen County commissioner and the county treasurer, coroner and surveyor, all unopposed, are being selected. Three seats are open on the Allen County Council.

The latter race took on a new character Friday when longtime Republican incumbent council candidate Roy Buskirk died. His name will remain on the ballot, and voters can still vote for him. Should he win, a replacement will be selected by a county Republican Party caucus.

All four county school districts will choose some school board candidates. Several retention votes for court of appeals and county Superior Court judges are also on the ballot.

Tom Hardin, chairman of the Allen County Election Board, said interest in the election “blows away what we have seen.” He said he would not be surprised by a record turnout and voters should expect lines at polling places today.

Hardin said people have generally been good-natured about waiting.

“I waited in it (an early-voting line) for a couple of hours on Saturday with my 19-year-old daughter,” he said.

rsalter@jg.net