A Franklin resident arrived at the Johnson County Courthouse 15 minutes before voting began in the basement on Tuesday morning.
Ralph Shinn wanted to make sure he got to the polls first to avoid a crowd.
Voting in the spring primary election and presidential race has started in Indiana. Throughout the month, as many as 10,000 Johnson County residents are expected to cast early ballots for president, members of Congress, state representatives and county officials.
During the first hour of voting, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., about 10 residents voted. By 2:30 p.m., about 80 residents had made it to the courthouse to vote on the first day the vote center was open.
A fairly busy morning was exactly the turnout Johnson County Clerk Susie Misiniec said she had hoped and planned for.
During the final week of voter registration, 3,094 Johnson County residents registered to vote online with almost half of that coming in the final three days, Misiniec said. The deadline to register was Monday.
Johnson County has never had 100,000 registered voters. By the end of 2015, Johnson County had 100,611 registered voters, according to the Indiana Secretary of State Election Division. When the polls opened Tuesday, the total hit about 104,000.
Johnson County’s adult population was estimated at 110,016 in 2014, meaning that nearly 95 percent of the eligible population is registered to cast a ballot.
At the Johnson County Courthouse, early voting will be open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays for the next three weeks, but residents such as Shinn wanted to get their votes cast as soon as they could.
Shinn, who always votes Democrat, wanted to vote as early as possible to avoid election day crowds and because voting is dear to him, he said.
“I turned 21 during Vietnam. Back then, you couldn’t vote until you were 21, even though I was drafted at 18. So, I always make it a point to come out and vote,” Shinn said. “I don’t understand people who don’t vote.”
Before Tuesday, Franklin resident Anthony Mosier had never voted, but the presidential election has motivated him to be counted, Mosier said.
Mosier began following the primary debates and has been glued to the candidates, following the issues closely and waiting anxiously for his chance to come to vote, he said. He wanted to vote early to avoid an Election Day crowd.
He took a Republican ballot and cast a vote for Donald Trump. He felt some regret for having never voted before Tuesday, he said.
“I’ve never voted before and to be honest, (voting) was really simple,” Mosier said. “I’m just not happy with what I’ve seen with the current administration and we need someone strong. So, I wanted to come out and vote.”
The next three voters cast Republican ballots as well, they said. Franklin resident Michael Spongberg is in his 30s, but was casting a vote in person for the primary election for just the second time in his life after voting absentee for several years while in the military, he said.
Voting early was convenient, he said.
Sisters Frances Rund and Catherine Lane were making their routine stop prior to Election Day. The pair cast early ballots every year, they said. Both plan on voting for Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, they said.
Voting is an obligation, and making sure you take the time to stop by a vote center is critical, Rund said.
For Spongberg, and those in his age range, casting their votes is crucial, he said.
“I think voting is our civic duty — especially with the current (presidential race),” Spongberg said. “And I think with my generation, those of us 30- to 35-years-old, voting is crucial. But for everyone, we are choosing our future. The future is in our hands.”
If you want to vote early, here is how you can do it through Friday:
The vote center at the Johnson County Courthouse will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today, Thursday and Friday.
Go to the basement of the courthouse.