WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Early voting is underway across Sedgwick County, and 16 new polling sites opened on Thursday. The lines were full of people taking advantage of casting their ballots early at the newly opened satellite polling stations.
“I’ve been voting in elections for 50 years, and I’ve never seen this big of a turnout, particularly for a regular primary,” Sharman Podlena said.
Wait times at the Sedgwick County Extension Office varied. Some voters said they waited for as little as 15 minutes to cast their ballots, while others said they waited for more than an hour. One voter said she saw long lines at other satellite polling locations with hundreds of people hoping to cast their ballots.
“We came this morning about 11 a.m., and there was an hour wait just in the line,” Podlena said. “Then, we went after lunch to another polling place, and there was a big line clear out the door there, so we came back here.”
Donald and Lisa Gray missed voting in a previous presidential election. That experience gave them the lesson they needed to make sure they vote early in every election.
“We tried to vote before going to work,” Donald Gray said. “That was going to take too long. We went after work and waited in line, waited in line, waited in line, and it was going to take too long. We knew the polls were going to close even though we were in line. We had kids that we needed to take care of.”
Some took advantage of early voting to make sure their voice was heard, even with life’s unpredictability.
“If something comes up, [maybe] you have to go to an appointment or something on the day of the election, you don’t miss voting because you’ve already gotten it out of the way,” Janet Dalrymple said.
Others appreciated the convenience of casting their ballot over their lunch break.
“I do work most days, so it just gives me a little extra time on [Aug. 2],” Kate Abreu said. “I don’t have to come in [to vote] on that day.”
Despite the long lines, one first-time voter is confident that waiting to cast her ballot was worth it.
“To see this day and age like right now as I’m able to vote,” Grace Vopat said. “I feel like it’s just such a big thing.”
The early voting center at the Sedgwick County Extension Office saw more than 800 people cast their ballots during its first day open. Satellite locations across the county will be open until July 31.