About half the county’s voters are eligible to cast ballots today, but depending on where you live you might have only one contest to help decide.
This spring, 54,619 voters who live in Greenwood, Franklin and Whiteland are eligible to vote. Those voters will decide contests on the Republican ticket for clerk and six of nine city council seats in Greenwood, clerk-treasurer and one council district in Franklin and two town council races in Whiteland. Two candidates running for Greenwood City Council are on the Democrat ballot this spring, but neither is contested.
The county has about 100,000 registered voters overall, but since no contests were on the ballot in Bargersville, Trafalgar, New Whiteland or Edinburgh, an election is not being conducted in those towns. Residents in unincorporated areas such as the Center Grove area or southern, rural Johnson County don’t vote this year at all.
Turnout is expected to be low — somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of eligible voters — so district council races could be decided by just a handful of votes.
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This spring, one vote really could make a difference in a race. Since candidates who win in the primary historically are often unopposed in the fall, this might be your only chance to choose who is running your city or town for the next four years, Johnson County Clerk Sue Anne Misiniec said.
“I think it’s going continue to be low. I could be very surprised, like last fall, but that was kind of a last-minute push, and maybe that’s what will happen again. Good heavens, I hope so,” Misiniec said.
With few voters expected, those seeking to cast a ballot shouldn’t have to wait in lines and could be in and out of one of the county’s 13 vote centers in minutes today. The polling sites are spread out throughout the three communities, so no matter where a voter lives, they are probably within a five- to 10-minute drive of a polling place.
Misiniec hasn’t heard much buzz about any of the races this spring. Neither mayoral race in Greenwood and Franklin is contested, and those typically bring the most voters during a municipal election. In 2011, when the mayors and additional city council races were contested, Greenwood’s turnout was about 13 percent, and Franklin hit about 17 percent.
Two city council races should be generating a little extra interest because of multiple candidates, Misiniec said.
In Greenwood, at-large incumbent Tim McLaughlin isn’t running again because he can’t serve on the council and keep his job as a police officer. His decision not to run again resulted in six people running for three available spots on the council, which includes the other two current council members and four challengers.
In Franklin, former District 3 council member Rob Henderson vacated the seat to take a position on the county council. Franklin Republicans chose Ted Murphy by caucus to fill the seat through the end of the year, but Murphy is in a contest with John Wales and Drew Eggers for that seat.
Misiniec doesn’t expect any of the communities to top 10 percent turnout, but a higher percentage of people living in the contested district in Franklin might come out to decide that three-way race. That district also includes the Franklin United Methodist Community, whose older residents typically vote at higher rates than other age groups.
“I expect we’re going to have a high percentage that vote in this District 3. That’s probably one of the more interesting races in Franklin,” Misiniec said. “It’s a higher contested race and there is some real passion among the people voting.”
With low turnouts, races could be decided by a few votes.
For example, in 2011, Bruce Armstrong beat Greg Hill by 33 votes in Greenwood’s District 3 race when the city’s turnout was about 13 percent. Those two candidates are in a rematch this year for that seat. In Whiteland, the at-large race in 2011 was decided by 27 votes. Fewer than 3,000 voters in Whiteland are registered, and about 275 showed up to vote during the last primary.
If a primary race ends in a tie, either the party would conduct a caucus or the party chairman would select the candidate to appear on the fall ballot, election board attorney Steve Huddleston said. Johnson County has never had a tie, to his knowledge, although a few past races have been decided by fewer than five votes, he said.
Voters in three communities — Greenwood, Franklin and Whiteland — are voting this spring. Here’s a look at what’s on the ballot this year compared with four years ago.
Registered voters: 36,796
Contests on ballot: 5 — clerk, city council districts 1, 3 and 6 and city council at-large
2011 turnout: 13 percent
2011 contests: 9
Registered voters: 14,888
Contests on ballot: 2 — clerk-treasurer and city council district 3
2011 turnout: 17 percent
2011 contests: 5
Registered voters: 2,935
Contests on ballot: 2 — town council Ward 2 and town council at-large
2011 turnout: 10 percent
2011 contests: 3
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We will post the results on our website as they come in.