A tech company and three not-for-profits have teamed up to create a website that will track wait times at vote centers in Marion County this election season.
The website, the product of a partnership among Vote Safe Indiana, Lessonly, IN Tech for Progress and Common Cause Indiana, is an effort to help alleviate problems that have occurred during past elections, as well as to diminish new challenges because of the pandemic.
Indiana is one of only a few states that is not offering no-excuse absentee voting this election. In the June primary, Hoosiers were able to vote by mail without having to have an excuse, but for the general election, Gov. Eric Holcomb and Secretary of State Connie Lawson have said it’s safe to vote in person.
Election Day is Nov. 3.
In Marion County on Election Day and during early voting, which starts next week, voters will be able to go to a new website, indyvotetimes.org, to check wait times in real time and then execute a voting plan for when lines are shorter.
Turnout is expected to be strong this election since president is on the ticket. Meanwhile, fewer vote centers are expected to be open in Marion County.
In August, the Marion County Election Board approved a plan to open 188 vote centers across the county on Election Day. That’s significantly more than the 22 that were open during the primary, but fewer than the 270 that have been opened in previous elections.
High turnout and fewer vote centers could potentially lead to long lines.
“Voting in Indiana is already harder than it should be,” Liane Hulka, co-founder of Vote Safe Indiana, said in written comments. “We didn’t want fear of getting sick from standing in line at the polls to disenfranchise voters from casting a ballot in this election. Furthermore, waiting in lines is a luxury for those who are not on the clock or have child-care concerns.”
The website’s creators hope it helps people make a plan for voting to keep people safe and to ensure people don’t leave without casting their ballot because of a long line.
The website was developed by Lessonly.
In order for the website to work, Vote Safe Indiana is seeking volunteers to track wait times at early voting centers and on Election Day.
People do not have to be a Marion County resident to volunteer. The sign-up page is at intechforprogress.org/election2020. Volunteers can choose by voting center, date and time.
Two volunteers are needed per shift per early voting location. Training will be provided online by IN Tech for Progress. Vote Safe Indiana will provide additional voter protection information.
For Election Day, Vote Safe Indiana seeks pairs of volunteers to work six- or 12-hour shifts at the county’s 188 voting sites to track wait times. Training will be provided online.
Voters can also help report wait times after they vote by logging into the new website at indyvotetimes.org.