And the race is on: Early voting begins today in county

If you head out to vote early today — the first day of early voting — you will likely wait in line.

The county has doubled the typical staffing at the courthouse for early voting and squeezed in as many voting machines as possible.

But election organizers are still expecting people to line up, based on the number of calls they have gotten asking about early voting and the continually increasing number of voters registering, clerk Susie Misiniec said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the day registrations were due, the county had more than 105,000 voters registered, and more than 1,700 applications pending, deputy clerk Reagan Higdon said. And since voters had until midnight to send in an application to register or update their information, she expected significantly more by today, she said.

The county is seeing just as much interest in this election, if not more, than in 2008, Misiniec said. That is the last time voters were electing a new president.

“I think this one is going to be just as crazy, if not crazier,” Misiniec said.

Misiniec has been encouraging voters to take advantage of early voting, which begins today at the courthouse and runs through the day before the election.

In the weeks leading up to the election, the county will also have voting at other locations around the county, and the county has added more locations to cast ballots than in the primary.

Her goal is to have at least 15 percent of voters cast their ballots early to try to relieve lines on Election Day. But even if she hits that goal, voters should still expect lines on Election Day.

But Misiniec said voters are getting the message to get out and vote early, and she is expecting lines at least the first few days of early voting this week, she said.

If voters don’t want to wait, she is suggesting they vote early next week, rather than in the first days voting is open, she said.

The county has spent months preparing for voting to begin.

Election officials decided to put at least eight voting machines in the basement of the courthouse for early voting, squeezing in as many as they can. And they are bringing in added staff, at least for the first few days, she said.

The goal is to move lines as quickly as possible, she said.

“We want to keep the line moving and the flow going,” she said.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.