FISHERS — Indiana voters stood in line for up to three hours in some cases Tuesday to cast their ballots in a series of tight, bitter races for the White House on down that Republicans hoped to dominate.
Voting was heavy across the state despite a month of early voting that saw more than 520,000 people vote as of Sunday.
Valerie Kroeger, a spokeswoman for the Indiana secretary of state's office, said significant voting delays were reported in heavily Republican Hamilton County just north of Indianapolis but that voting elsewhere appeared to be going smoothly.
Hamilton County Election Administrator Kathy Richardson said a programming glitch hit voting machines in about half of the county's polling sites and delayed the start of voting by about 20 minutes. However, Richardson attributed the long lines to high interest in the presidential election and a local referendum on whether Fishers should remain a town or become a city.
"We didn't get off to a good start, but when you have two-hour lines and you only had a 20-minute delay, the delay wasn't the problem," Richardson said. "The volume of people who have come to the polls is what's causing the issue."
For some, the wait wasn't worth it.
Part-time retail worker Charlene Shannon, 67, said the line to vote was so long at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers that some people, including an elderly neighbor who is hypoglycemic and had to go get food, gave up.
"People are leaving and not voting, and that's so unfair," she said, noting that her son waited in line for five minutes to vote in Chicago. "Something is wrong here."
Kroeger said turnout appeared to be heavier than expected but said it would be several days before officials knew how it will compare with 2008, when a hotly contested presidential primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton energized voters throughout the campaign season. Obama narrowly won Indiana's general election that year, giving Democrats their first presidential win in the state since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Republican Mitt Romney was widely favored to win the 2012 election, and polls showed the GOP's Mike Pence with a solid lead in the race for governor. But Republican hopes of sweeping the top races were in jeopardy with the bitterly contested U.S. Senate fight between Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Richard Mourdock.
A recent poll had Donnelly leading Mourdock after the latter's comments that a pregnancy resulting from rape is "something God intended."
Joe Reece, a 34-year-old Indianapolis software salesman, was among about 20 people waiting in line before the polls opened at 6 a.m. EST at First Meridian Heights Presbyterian Church on the city's north side.
Reece said he voted for Mourdock in the primary and also in the general election and that the tea party-backed candidate's abortion comment didn't affect his vote.
"I think if he could take it back he would. I don't know that he meant to say it the way he did," Reece said.
Reece and other voters said the economy was a more pressing concern.
"I feel like he's got the background and the acumen to be able to help us reverse course quickly," Reese said of Romney, who got his vote.
But many people who voted for Obama said they felt the president needed more than one term to fix the nation's ills.
"No one can correct everything in four years. Especially the economy, it's not going to happen overnight," said Bernadette Hatcher, 42, of Indianapolis, who went to vote after finishing her overnight shift at a warehouse.
Kathy Weddle, 42, of Osceola in northern Indiana, has been out of work since losing her sales job in May. But she said she thought the president's power over the economy was limited.
"The president can't create a job for me," Weddle said. "I don't think who is president is going to make job growth happen. It's going to happen when the economy is better and when there's a position open I could get into."