3:45 p.m. Candidates express excitement, contentment
In text messages to the Tribune, Democrat Abbie Smith and Republican Tyler Moore both seemed to be in high spirits as the minutes ticked closer to the 6 p.m. voting deadline.
"Feeling great! Completely at peace with everything, and know we have done and/or are doing [every] single possible thing we can do," said Smith.
"I've personally been to [Kokomo High School], 685, First Assembly of God and Carver Center. Back to HQ for a while, and headed back out for a bit."
Moore, meanwhile, said it has "been a good day!"
"We've been jumping from vote center to vote center. A lot of positive excitement!" he said.
2:45 p.m. Turnout continues to grow
Howard County Election Board member Derick Steele says 5,914 people voted by 2:45 p.m. today, bringing the total number of ballots cast to 11,797 between voting locations in Kokomo and Russiaville.
"That number is already higher than 4 years ago in 2015 and we still have 3 hours to go," noted Steele in a text message.
2:30 p.m. Printer issues plague polling locations
While turnout numbers continue to grow, printers have been malfunctioning at Carver Community Center and Kokomo First Assembly throughout the day, poll inspector at Kokomo First Assembly, Richard Abel, said.
A line formed at Kokomo First Assembly while Abel and another election worker took to one of the two printers, which was fixed in less than ten minutes.
Abel said that a technician has been traveling between Carver and First Assembly to fix printer issues throughout the day.
"It hasn't slowed us down too much," he said. "We've never had both printers down at once, and we've never had a big line."
Even though there wasn't a line, Abel said voters were constantly entering and exiting.
"It's a lot busier than I expected," he said. "We've had a lot of people."
There had been 481 votes at First Assembly as of 2:30 p.m. and 341 votes at Carver as of 2 p.m.
11:55 p.m. Voter turnout numbers come in
Local officials told the Tribune this morning that 5,622 voters cast their ballots early in the Kokomo municipal election.
That is roughly 14% of the 40,114 registered voters inside city limits. Another 3,908 ballots were cast at vote centers this morning, Howard County Election Board member Derick Steele told the Tribune shortly before noon.
That brings the combined number to 9,530 ballots -- or 23.7% of registered voters -- meaning more people voted prior to noon today than voted at any time in this spring's primary election.
Kokomo saw an overall 19% voter turnout in the primary election.
Howard County Clerk Debbie Stewart said today that she is happy with the general election's early voting turnout.
She previously told the Tribune she was preparing for at least 50% turnout for the general election by the end of Election Day. Stewart acknowledged the number may be a bit high but said, “I think people are going to come out and vote.”
A turnout anywhere around 50% would be a major improvement over the previous municipal election, in 2015, when just 25% of voters showed up at the polls. That election, however, was held prior to the implementation of the existing vote center system.
11:30 a.m. Electioneers keep atmosphere light at Northview Church
Outside Northview Church, friends and family campaigning for Tyler Moore were surprised when a car pulled up and a woman wearing an elephant mascot head jumped out with a sandwich tray. Under the mask was Mindy Heady, who was with her friend and Republican City Council Candidate Diane Howard.
"I think today is a very stressful day for the candidates and I just wanted to lighten the mood," Heady said. "We're wearing red, white and blue socks and we're just having fun. It's been a long race for everyone."
Mindy Heady showed up as Ellie the Elephant outside Northview Church. She said the election is stressful on candidates and she wanted to lighten the mood. Here she is with Diane Howard, republican City Clerk candidate. @KokomoTribune pic.twitter.com/879hdm47pL— Laura Arwood (@LauraArwood) November 5, 2019
Election worker Willie Thompson said she hasn't worked the precinct in years, but she was impressed with voter presence. By 11:30 a.m., there had been 184 votes cast, and traffic had been steady.
"This is really good for number for this kind of election," she said. "Most people would stay home and wait to vote in the spring for the Presidential (primary) but there's been a lot of people out today."
11 a.m. Constant flow of voters at UAW 685
Voters were coming and going at UAW Local 685, 929 E. Hoffer St., this morning. Even though the pace had not slowed down, waits were no longer than five or ten minutes, poll inspector Donna Lawson said. As of 11 a.m., there had been 381 votes placed.
"For a city election, this is very busy," she said. "This is great. Our early voting, Tuesday through Sunday, had 600 ballots cast."
Lawson, who has been working as an inspector for 25 years, said local elections like this one are typically much slower. She said the union has been very supportive of the election workers, and even encourages people to go vote.
"I think it's even busier than usual with the strikes and everything," she said. "We've all been, 'Hey come out and vote.' Bring your friends, bring your enemies. We don't care how you vote, just vote. Voter participation is what we need."
10 a.m. Polls slow at Indiana Wesleyan University
Voter turnout was slow and steady at Indiana Wesley University this morning, poll inspector Mark Underwood said. As of 10:30 a.m., there had been approximately 226 votes cast at the polling place.
There were no lines at the precinct when polls opened, but Underwood said there were more voters than he had expected.