Voters have until Monday to register if they want to cast ballots in the primary, although a record low turnout is expected.
Eight Republican races are contested in the primary in Greenwood, Franklin and Whiteland. Voters in the other towns won’t cast ballots this spring. Residents in the unincorporated areas such as White River Township or southern Johnson County don’t vote in municipal elections.
Any new residents or teenagers now old enough to vote will need to register by the end of the day Monday in order to cast a ballot on Election Day, May 5. Anyone who registers after Monday won’t be able to vote until fall.
A total of 99,554 voters are registered in the county, which has increased about 700 since the fall election. But since elections are being conducted in only the two cities and Whiteland, about 45,600 voters are eligible to cast ballots this spring, according to the Johnson County voter registration office.
County Clerk Sue Anne Misiniec expects few of those voters to show up, though, because of the limited number of primary contests.
“I think (turnout) was 9-point-something last year for a countywide primary, and then we got a much better turnout in the fall. If we get 10 percent I’d be elated. I doubt it will even be that,” Misiniec said.
Turnout in 2011, the last time the county had a municipal election, was 15 percent in the primary. But that ballot had 22 contested races on it, including races for mayors in both Greenwood and Franklin, which tend to attract the most voters, Misiniec said.
This year’s contested races include four Greenwood City Council races, one council race in Franklin, one council race in Whiteland, and clerk and clerk-treasurer posts in both cities. Misiniec hasn’t heard much buzz locally about any of the races, though, which was similar to the atmosphere in the primary last year.
In May 2014, the county had a turnout of 9.1 percent, the worst turnout in the past 25 years, possibly the worst ever in the county. Although turnout rose to about 24 percent in the fall election, Johnson County still had the lowest voter turnout among all 92 counties.
With neither mayoral race a contest, turnout could be much less than 10 percent and set a record low, Misiniec predicts.
“It is the most populous areas, Greenwood and Franklin, but I still think if we had a mayoral race it would bring more people in. It is what it is,” she said.
In anticipation of a low turnout, the county has reduced early voting hours to save money by not having to pay poll workers.
Early voting at the courthouse, which typically starts 30 days before the election, instead will be open for one week prior to Election Day. One other site besides the courthouse will be open the two Saturdays before the primary, and one additional satellite site at the Franklin Cultural Arts and Recreation Center will be open April 29 to May 1.
After getting surprised by turnout in the fall, where voters were waiting in lines as long as 30 minutes at some sites, Misiniec plans to equip each vote center with extra voting machines. The extra machines will be turned off but can be flipped on and put into use if more voters show up than expected, she said.
The county will still host special polling sites at the three large retirement communities in Johnson County. Seniors typically vote at the highest rates, so poll workers will set up voting machines for one day each at Greenwood Village South, Indiana Masonic Home and Franklin United Methodist Community.
“They have a great allegiance to voting, and we’re hoping everyone else catches on,” Misiniec said.
Voters have several different ways to update their registration or register for the first time. If you’ve moved from outside the county or moved within the county, here’s how to update your registration:
Bureau of Motor Vehicles: When updating your driver’s license, staff can forward your new address information to the county to update your voter registration.
Online: Visit indianavoters.com and choose either “Register to Vote Online” or “Update My Voter Registration.” If you’re not sure whether you’re registered at your current address, you also can check your current registration.
By mail: If you don’t have Internet access or are unable to leave your home, call the county voter registration office at 317-346-4466 and ask to be mailed an application. A clerk will be able to send the registration form to your home.
In person: Visit the voter registration office at the Johnson County courthouse in Franklin. The office is located in the basement of the courthouse. You’ll need to bring a current, state-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license to be able to register.
Are you registered? People who want to check their current registration can contact the county at 346-4466 or check online at indianavoters.com.