Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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November 6, 2012

DECISION 2012: Goshen voters hit the polls early

GOSHEN — The polls were packed at two of Goshen’s voting locations this morning, which kept poll workers there very busy.

“There have been big changes,” said election judge Terri Wentz at Shanklin Park, districts 11 and 12. “The boundaries changed, the numbers changed.”

Those changes were also causing problems at districts 20 and 21 at Maple City Chapel this morning.

“I’ve worked this for six years and this is the worst it has been,” inspector Susan Hochstetler said. “I’ve had people bring me new voter cards telling them where to go and so far, 25 of them were wrong.”

Hochstetler said she spent most of the morning on the phone with the county voter registration office to resolve issues for voters and help them find their correct polling place.

Hochstetler said some of the problems also stemmed from being extra busy and having a shortage of poll workers.

“They combined (two precincts) and we have only one precinct board,” she said.

The precincts normally get 450 to 500 voters all day, said poll worker Eldon Stoltzfus. There were already more than 400 people who had voted that morning at the church.

Voter Catherine Skaggs had to wait in two precinct lines before voting at Maple City Chapel. Her name was on the book for 21, but was overlooked when she first checked in. She said she would have waited all day to vote if she had to, though.

“It is your duty to vote,” Skaggs said. “If I don’t vote, I have no right to complain.”

Rhiannon  Grossman agreed.

“You may not be completely fond of the choices,” she said, “but it is still your duty to get out and make sure your voice is heard.”

Voting officials were also kept busy at Shanklin Park.

“We had 50 in the first half hour,” Wentz said. “Normally we have four or five people waiting at the door.”

Wentz said the flow was very steady, with about 25 voters per half hour. The flow slacked off around 8 a.m., then picked back up. Fifty-four people voted between 9 and 10 a.m. There were also 189 absentee ballots cast in the precincts. Usually, there are around 35, Wentz said.

“A lot of people are passionate,” Wentz said. “They got out early.”

The most common problem Wentz was seeing at her precincts was expired or out-of-state licenses.

“People were registered to vote (here), but they had out-of-state licenses,” she said. “That causes a lot of extra paperwork.”

A positive thing the election judges (one from each party) were excited to see today at Shanklin was first-time voters.

“We’ve had five,” Wentz said. “We have been clapping and whoo hooing.”

One of those voters was Tia Johnson, 31.

She said it was a little embarrassing to say she was voting for the first time at 31, but this particular election and her life circumstances finally brought her to the polls.

“I had always been in college or lived in a state that I did not belong to and just never got around to it,” Johnson said.

She has resided in Goshen for the past two years and was excited to be voting for the first time.

“I am very passionate about the person I am voting for,” she said.

Shanklin election judge Lamar Branson said he saw a lot of excitement for this year’s election when he was manning the county’s mobile election board. Poll workers travel to hospitals and nursing homes so residents and patients can vote.

One woman he met was voting at age 103. Another woman at IU Health Goshen Hospital was due with her third child the day the traveling board showed up.

“She stood there and voted,” Branson said. “That’s the excitement about going out there.”

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Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

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