Nearly 5,000 Jackson County residents took the opportunity to vote in the weeks leading up to today’s general election.
That’s nearly a sixth of the 30,548 registered to vote.
For those of you who didn’t vote early by mail or in person at two absentee polling sites, your last chance to help the country pick a president, a U.S. senator and representative, a governor, two of three county commissioners, three at-large council members and a coroner began at 6 a.m. today. It will come to an end at 6 p.m.
But if you didn’t vote early at the Jackson County Courthouse or Jackson Superior Court I, anticipate the possibility of having to stand in line to vote at your precinct.
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In fact, some of those voting early in the past few days also had to stand in lines, including Nichole Gray of Brownstown.
“I figured I’d walk right in,” Gray said.
Instead, she waited about 30 minutes in a line at the courthouse in Brownstown.
Gray said she had never voted in the past.
“I just figured at this point — the way the world is — I needed to get my vote out there, too,” she said.
Margy Pogue of Vallonia said she generally votes early just to get it done and not fight the last day.
“I expected a line, but nothing this big,” said Pogue, who waited about 45 minutes.
Merlin Pratt of Brownstown said he decided to vote early for the first time and wound up spending about 25 minutes in line.
“To avoid tomorrow’s chaos,” he said.
Pratt said he voted Libertarian this time around.
“I just can’t manage the other candidates,” he said.
County Clerk Amanda Lowery said she anticipated the long lines the nearer it came to Election Day.
“We have had significant lines the past four days or so,” she said.
Polling sites will have paper ballots available today to allow more than one person to vote at a time, and that should make voting go a little faster, she said. In-person absentee balloting was done electronically.
Lowery said the election board is anticipating lines early in the day and possibly when the polls close.
“People need to plan accordingly and be prepared to wait,” she said.
It’s the presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump that has driven interest in this year’s election.
Locally, voters will pick three at-large county council members. That race features Democrats Andy Fountain of Brownstown, Kathy Schafstall of Seymour and Steve Ritter of Norman against Republican candidates Ann Cain of Seymour, Dave Hall of Norman and John Nolting of Brownstown.
A change in state law involving straight party voting is in effect for the election.
Hoosiers may still be able to cast a straight ticket, but that vote will not count for any individual candidate for at-large county council races, the school board races and public questions on the ballot. The same will hold true for any at-large town council race in future elections. Voters now will have to select each candidate they wish to vote for in at-large council races.
Jackson County voters also will pick commissioners.
Democrat Kurt Fenneberg, a political newcomer from Seymour, faces Republican Drew Markel of Seymour for the District 1 commissioner seat presently held by Republican Jerry Hounshel, who did not seek his party’s nomination in the primary.
The District 2 commissioner race features two newcomers, Republican Bob Gillaspy and Democrat Bradley D. Smith, both of Seymour, and the race for coroner features Republican Mike Bobb and Democrat Andy Rumph, both of Seymour.
Voters also will pick school board members at Crothersville, Medora and Seymour, although there are no contested races.
At the end of early voting Saturday, the clerk’s office had received 4,748 valid ballots, including 3,844 from people voting in person and 637 by mail. By mid-morning Monday, another 216 had voted in person, and the office also had received 48 more ballots by mail.
Absentee voting ended at noon Monday.
Turnout in the presidential elections in Jackson County has averaged 59.2 percent. Four years ago, 58 percent or 17,006 out of 29,380 registered voters cast ballots.
Jackson County Republican Party Chairwoman Melissa Acton attributed the high turnout to folks coming out to vote for Trump.
“His base is most motivated in this election,” Acton said. “I look for his numbers to be high enough to affect down the ballot races, which will really benefit the governor’s race. I believe it to be our most vulnerable.”
Voting in presidential election years
Anyone planning to vote on Election Day must be a registered voter and have a valid government-issued identification with a photograph, and it must be current through the last general election (Nov. 4, 2014). It can be a driver’s license, a passport or any identification issued by the state or federal government.
Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles license branches will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. today to issue identification cards and driver’s licenses that may be used for identification at a polling place.
The license branches only will process new, amended or replacement identification cards, driver’s licenses and learner permits.
The BMV provides free state-issued identification cards for voting purposes to any unlicensed Hoosier as long as he or she can provide proper documentation and will be at least 18 years of age on or before the next general or municipal election.
A complete list of documents required to obtain a new state identification card or driver’s license may be found at mybmv.com.