Early Voting Begins In Monroe County

Monroe County Democratic Party Chairman Rick Dietz is pushing for longer polling hours in advance of November's election.

Rick Dietz

Photo: Stan Jastrzebski

Monroe County Democratic Party Chairman Rick Dietz is pushing for longer polling hours in advance of November's election.

Early voting is underway in Monroe County. Between now and Election Day there are nearly two dozen opportunities for Hoosiers to cast their ballots. The hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monroe County Democratic Party Chairman Rick Dietz called those hours “bankers hours” because most people work during that time. Dietz says voters need at least two days during the week where the polls are open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We think that just given the fact that there are no weekday hours that aren’t within the period of normal working hours that it’s pretty obvious that there should be an extension of those hours into the evening,” Dietz said.

Monroe County Clerk Jim Fielder, a Republican who sits on the election board, said he is open to extending voting hours into the evenings but he doesn’t think it’s necessary. Fielder said morning hours would be reduced if polling locations are open later.

“We have a lot of our voters, especially our elderly voters, that use the morning hours,” he said.  “8:30 is when we’ve always opened and we have voters that definitely expect that so we couldn’t just move the hours from 8:30 to 11 o’clock.”

Dietz said the whole premise of early voting is to make the process more convenient for voters, but he said that’s not what Monroe County officials are doing. Dietz also pointed out people will have to travel to downtown Bloomington if they want to vote, because  the prospect of adding more satellite voting sites was shot down last month. Fielder said he believes that if people want to vote, they will find a way around their work schedules.

“People have had jobs during the day for the 20 years or so that I’ve been around here and they certainly always made it to the polls. Those that want to vote will always vote,” he said.

There will be evening hours available for voters on Oct. 8 as a test to see if longer hours are needed. The election board is scheduled to discuss voting hours at its meeting this week.

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