Large turnout contributed to long lines at the polls

Some of the longest voter lines during the Nov. 4 election formed early and stretched throughout the day at polling locations in Hillsboro and Marion.

But ?it was a busy day? at all voting sites in the county, according to workers.

Tina Spencer, Marion County clerk and election officer, said the county has been combining polling locations for the past several small elections.

?It was not really in an effort to save money,? she said. ?It was simply to streamline the process.?

With the smaller elections and declining turnout, Spencer said it no longer made sense to have two boards serving a few voters.

?I didn?t realize what the volume of voters would be like for this larger election, because this was my first gubernatorial election as county clerk,? she added.

?Unfortunately, my learning experience was an inconvenience for many of our voters,? she said.

Spencer said voter turnout all over the county was excellent.

?I was in communication with all the polling places and things ran smoothly. ?

She said voters in Hillsboro and Marion need to know she is taking steps to prevent long waiting times by increasing the number of election boards or polling locations in large state and national elections.

?I never want to inconvenience our voters in Marion County,? Spencer said. ?My role is to make voting more convenient and easier to the best of my ability.?

Voters are also reminded about in-person voting at the courthouse prior to election day or advance voting through the mail, she said.

The goal of early voting or advance voting is usually to increase the turnout while cutting down on long lines at polling sites.

The clerk?s office also offered extended hours for early voting this year in an effort to make things more convenient.

Waiting times

Even though the lines were long, Spencer said poll workers told her voters were polite.

?In Marion, most reports I heard were that people were waiting on average less than 30 minutes,? she said. ?In Hillsboro, the average voter wait was an hour or more.?

Chatter on social media, she said, indicated that some voters decided not to wait in a line.

Spencer said no voters were turned away when the doors of the poll sites closed at 7 p.m.

?Everyone who was in line when the polls closed was allowed to vote,? she said. ?I did hear that in Hillsboro at 7 p.m. everyone was through the outside door when it was locked. No one was still waiting outside.?

Busy night

Spencer said this past midterm election felt as busy as a presidential-year election. Poll workers at all sites, reported they were busy all day.

Spencer said she wanted to also add a ?huge thank-you? to all poll workers and other election workers.

?It may have been a long day waiting in line for voters, but it was also a very long day for those serving the voters,? she said. ?Everyone did an amazing job, and the counting process went very smoothly, too.?

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