Early voting totals soar past 10,000

The last time one Greenwood resident voted early, the Johnson County Courthouse was the only location open to cast her ballot before Election Day.

The lines were so long that day that she waited for hours in line, taking up half the day, Kathy Stucky said.

This year, Kathy and her husband John Stucky took advantage of the four locations open throughout Johnson County on Saturday to cast their ballot before Election Day.

“Voting on a Saturday is a luxury,” John Stucky said. “They certainly have made that more convenient.”

Nearly 2,000 residents stopped by the Johnson County Courthouse, Jonathan Byrd’s, Mount Pleasant Christian Church and the Trafalgar branch of the Johnson County Public Library for the last big day of early voting before Tuesday.

As of Saturday afternoon, 10,819 people — or 10.4 percent of registered voters — have walked into a vote center to cast their ballot in the primary election. That total doesn’t include residents who have mailed in a ballot.

Polls on election day are expected to be busy since neither the Democratic or Republican Party have their presidential nominee picked, Johnson County Clerk Sue Anne Misiniec said. She added she anticipates at least 50 percent of registered voters in Johnson County to cast ballots in this year’s primary election.

Despite rain throughout the day, some voting centers saw the longest lines Saturday compared to any of the days they were open during the week.

Within the first two hours of poll sites opening Saturday, 200 voters had cast ballots at the Mount Pleasant Christian Church, inspector Mike Medlock said. By 10:30 a.m., 15 to 20 people were waiting in line to vote and the 10 machines were in use.

Many residents said early voting was best due to their work schedules, and was quick and convenient, due to shorter lines than typical on Election Day.

“It’s just so hard during the work week because it is packed, so this is a lot less stressful,” said White River Township resident John Alexander.

John Stucky is at work by 6 a.m., the same time vote centers open on Election Day. And Kathy Stucky has an hour commute each way to work, so adding a trip to a vote center isn’t convenient, she said.

Due to the importance of this year’s elections for local, state and national races, Greenwood resident Ben Houston wanted to make sure he cast his ballot.

“I wanted to make sure that I got it done because this one really matters to me,” Houston said. “We say this country is a representative democracy, or at least we hold it up to be one. And what is a representative democracy if the people aren’t being represented, if your vote isn’t being counted?”

Houston and fellow Greenwood resident Juanita Alexander both remember dozens of people in line at Mount Pleasant Christian Church during previous elections, so they wanted to avoid the lengthy voting process this time around.

During the 2012 presidential race, Houston remembers pulling up to Mount Pleasant Christian Church, seeing a long line wrapped around the room in their lobby, and drove down to the Trafalgar library branch since he knew the line wouldn’t be long.

Even with the extra drive time, Houston knows he saved time instead of waiting in line, he said.

“It was one of the least populated at the time, so we got right in, voted and got right out,” Houston said. “That was one of the reasons, also, with that memory in mind, of why I wanted to vote early.”

Voters still can avoid long lines on election day by casting their ballots at the courthouse by noon on Monday.

By the numbers

Busiest vote centers this weekend

Here’s a look at how many people voted on Saturday at each location:

Johnson County Courthouse: 321

Jonathan Byrd’s: 570

Mount Pleasant Christian Church: 732

Trafalgar branch of the Johnson County Public Library: 204