PAOLA — Local businessman Mike Hursey wanted to be one of the first Miami County residents to cast a ballot in the presidential election when advance voting kicked off Wednesday, Oct. 14.
So Hursey and Tom and Shelly Schierman made plans to be at the advance voting site at 8 a.m. Wednesday in Paola. Arriving a few minutes ahead of schedule, Hursey was surprised to see he wouldn’t even crack the top 10 list of early birds.
A line stretched down the sidewalk to the curb as people tried to social distance while waiting for the doors to open at 118 S. Pearl St. The vacant building, the former sheriff’s office/jail, has been converted into the county’s advance voting site — with extra COVID-19 safety precautions.
“We arrived about 7:45 and there were about 15 to 20 in front of us,” said Hursey, owner of Casa Somerset. “By the time we went through and came out there was no line. I was doing it to vote and promote advance voting. It is very easy and really no lines — usually.”
Hursey offered another good reason to advance vote.
“This is I believe going to be a crazy election,” he said. “Now our friends know they can’t change our minds or our vote, so we can go back to normal.”
The turnout for advance voting set records right out of the gate.
“Today was the first day to mail ballots and we have 3,529 ballots on their way,” County Clerk/Election Officer Janet White said Wednesday in a Facebook post. “In addition, 363 people came to cast their vote in person. Those numbers are record-breaking for Miami County.”
The clerk’s office has never mailed out that many advance ballots for a presidential election and certainly not on the first day, White said.
“We have mailed more ballots today than (people) voted by ballot in any Presidential election during the whole advance period,” White said. “I believe our previous first day Presidential election in-person voting (record) was approximately 150 people.”
The County Clerk/Election Office has posted the following hours for advance voting:
- Regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Oct. 19-23 and Oct. 26-30.
- Extended hours, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Oct. 22, Oct. 26 and Oct. 29.
- Saturday hours, 8 a.m. to noon, Oct. 24 and Oct. 31.
- Last chance: 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Nov. 2.
Hursey never misses an opportunity to vote.
“I have always voted because I had friends in Vietnam, two of them,” Hursey said. “One was killed, Joel Mock. The other, Walter Wesley, lived. My son Joe Hursey was named after them. Walter Joel Hursey.”
Hursey said his father fought in WWII.
“All that have died for our freedom to vote, it’s the least I can do to honor them,” Hursey said. “We are lucky to live in such a great country.”