Early vote drops


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Jackson County Clerk's office reports 732 early ballots have been counted in Tuesday's primary elections.

In contested Republican races, incumbent Sheriff Michael E. Carothers received 227 votes. Challenger Jerry Hounshel received 174 early votes.

Also on the Republican ballot, Jackson Township Trustee William Marsh received 80 votes. His challenger Ellis McCormick received no early votes.

On the Democrat ballot, incumbent assessor Beverly Gaiter received 221 early votes. Challenger Kay Cummings Schwade received 76 early votes.

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Polls in Jackson County and across the Hoosier state closed at 6 p.m. today.

Jackson County clerk Amanda Cunningham Lowery reported only a few minor problems with voting machines during the day.

Overall turnout was expected to be light.

This year 732 early ballots were voted, down from 970 in 2010.

EARLY VOTE IS DOWN: The number of Jackson County residents casting early or absentee ballots dropped by more than 200 this year compared to the same election cycle for years ago.

This year, 732 early ballots were voted, down from 970 in 2010, county Clerk Amanda Cunningham Lowery said. In 2010, early votes made up 3.4 percent of the 8,369 total votes cast in the primary election.

Early votes have been tallied and will be added with votes cast during today's primary elections once voting machine information is taken to the courthouse in Brownstown.

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WHO'S VOTING: Who's voting: Amy Pierceall, 33, of rural Seymour, voted in Hamilton Township at the fire station. There was no line, she said.

"People my age should especially vote because we have to take up the helm at some point," Pierceall said. "The primaries are an important vote because it decides who the actual candidates will be. It literally took me 4 minutes to vote. Isn't it worth that to support the people you want to see become our community leaders?"

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FEW GLITCHES REPORTED: Jackson County's primary elections are counting down toward their 6 p.m. close with few election machine problems.

Voting machine mechanics were, however, en route to the Salt Creek poll site at Houston in northwest Jackson County with a spare machine because of problems with the reader there, county Clerk Amanda Cunningham Lowery said.

 "They are going to switch out a machine at Salt Creek, and I'm unsure what was going on with that machine," Lowery said about 2:50 p.m. "When we delivered the absentee ballots, we were made aware that there was a problem."

She said a few machines that read the ballots had to be adjusted during the day.

"A few machines needed to have the scanning area widened so that the ballots could be read easier," she said. "These new machines are more particular about how the ballots are fed into them than the old ones."

The fix was fast and simple at Jackson 6 precinct in Seymour, said poll inspector Deseree McKain-Haurez of Crothersville.

"The machine that reads the ballots ... (has) been picky about how we put the ballots in," she said.

The glitch was worked out quickly with help from voting machine inspectors, she said.

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WHO'S VOTING: Marie Sexton of Seymour said she always votes and this year was interested in the Jackson County sheriff's race between Republicans Jerry Hounshel and Mike Carothers and the Ninth District U.S. congressional race, which included three Republicans and four Democrats seeking nominations.

"I feel like voting is my civic duty," Sexton said. "It's one of the few times a person has the opportunity to have their say. And if you don't, then you can't complain later."

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FEW YOUNG VOTERS SPOTTED: By 11 a.m. Tuesday, election officer Tara Johnson hadn't seen the first young voter at Calvary Baptist Church in Seymour.

She was saddened by the lack of interest and turnout for the spring primary, but not surprised, she said.

In all, fewer than 90 people had cast their ballots before noon at the church, which serves the Jackson 1 and Redding-Seymour voting districts.

"We haven't seen our first one under the age of 30 yet," Johnson said.

Briana Henry, 21, walked in to change that circumstance.

After presenting her driver's license and signing in, Henry walked over to the booth, filled out her ballot and then fed it into the machine that would count her vote.

It was a satisfying feeling, she said.

"My dad always said I needed to get out and exercise my right to vote, so I do," Henry said.

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VOTING STRONGER: A check of voter turnout on Seymour's north side showed a slightly heavier turnout than elsewhere in the city.

By noon, 136 of 1,564 registered voters in Jackson 4 North precinct, or 8.7 percent, had cast ballots at First Baptist Church.

That's about normal for a non-presidential primary election, poll worker Tom Jones said.

Across the room, 116 or 9.4 percent of the 1,232 voters in Jackson 5 North had voted, Jones said.

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WHO's VOTING: Mark Holt, 47, of Seymour was among those voting before noon at Jackson 4 North at First Baptist Church. Voting is important, he said.

"It's the American dream and an American duty to vote on Election Day," Holt said. "Too many other people in the world don't have that privilege."

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TURNOUT CHECK: A check of precincts in Seymour shortly around 11:30 a.m. today shows voter turnout ranging from typical to terrible, according to poll workers.

Poll inspector Kendra Zumhingst said turnout at Jackson 3 South precinct at Zion Lutheran Church on the city's south side is typically low, but but she described it as "terrible" this year.

Sixty-three or 5 percent of the precinct's 1,267 registered voters had cast ballots as of 11:30 a.m.

Turnout was even lower at Jackson 4 South, however, where 55 or 3.5 percent of its 1,564 registered voters had picked up ballots by 11:40 a.m.

Inspector Stephen Pierson said turnout was very light through mid-morning — a factor he attributed to a lack of contests.

Randall Helmbrecht, 72, said he voted Tuesday morning and feels it's every citizen's duty to do so. He said too many don't share that obligation and fail to vote.

Inspector Marion Gregory described turnout as "very light" compared to previous elections.

As of 11:45 a.m., 77 or 7.6 percent of the 1,006 registered voters had been to the polling site at the Jackson Superior Court I building on Seymour's west side.

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SMOOTH SAILING: One hour into Election Day, Jackson County Clerk Amanda Cunningham Lowery was hesitant to comment on how things were going at poll sites across the county.

"I don't want to jinx anything, but it's really smooth right now," Lowery said at 7 a.m. Polls will remain open until 6 p.m. today.

"We've had a few people calling to check on voter registrations, but that's about it," Lowery said.

Voters who have questions about where they should go to voter today can call the clerk's office at 812-358-6116 or go online at indianavoter.in.gov.

Watch www.tribtown.com for updates on the election, and check out the full story in Wednesday's edition of The Tribune.

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