You didn’t vote this year, but you’ve probably already started seeing billboards and TV ads for races you won’t cast a ballot in for another six months.
This year, Indiana had no local, statewide or federal races on the ballot, but next year, multiple contested races will be on the ballot.
Next year, voters will select a new county sheriff, who will be responsible for working to address an overcrowded jail and dealing with the impacts of the growing opioid crisis. Billboard asking residents to support sheriff candidates have been up for months on key thoroughfares such as State Road 135.
Sheriff Doug Cox is not able to run for a third term under state law, leaving an open seat that has already received significant interest. Four candidates formed exploratory committees to begin raising money, and more candidates could file by the deadline early next year.
The sheriff race will be the top local race, Johnson County Clerk Sue Misiniec said.
“Because we have four candidates for sheriff, which is always highly contested, they’ll draw a big turnout,” she said.
Also on the ballot, one of the county’s three county commissioners, who are responsible for setting polices and rules for the county, such as a county-wide smoking ban, and four members of the county council, which is in charge of spending county tax dollars and approving any new local taxes, such as the wheel tax or the innkeeper’s tax in the past. Voters will also select a new clerk and county recorder, since both already have served two terms and cannot run again. And other contested races are possible, based on who decides to file for offices such as prosecutor, coroner, assessor, Bargersville, Edinburgh and New Whiteland town council and local school board seats.
Open seats almost always draw more interest from voters, which should lead to larger turnout, especially in the primary, when one candidate for each party will be selected, Misiniec said.
In addition to local races, voters also will be casting ballots for state and national offices, including U.S. Senate and Congress, Indiana Secretary of State and state senator and state representatives next year.
The race for U.S. Senate is expected to generate a large amount of attention, since that race could be key to determining whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. Senate, said Marjorie Hershey, a political science professor at Indiana University.
The race between incumbent Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly and whoever wins the Republican primary is likely to be in the national spotlight next year, as one of the few Senate races that is expected to be tightly contested, she said.
Hershey said she wouldn’t be surprised to see the amount of money spent in the race to top $100 million. By comparison, even six years ago, a high-spending Senate race would be around $40 million, she said.
That means residents should expect to see plenty of ads on TV, an influx of telephone calls and lots of additional mail in the months leading up to Election Day.
While non-presidential election years have lower voter turnouts, Misiniec isn’t planning to reduce the number of vote centers in the county significantly, she said. Johnson County residents had 22 vote centers to choose from last year. Misiniec expects the number of vote centers to be about 20 next year, but has not yet decided on a final count and which ones would not be open.
Here are key dates leading up to election day in 2018:
Jan. 10: Candidates can begin filing to run for election
Feb. 9: Candidates have until noon to file for election
April 9: Voter registration ends
April 10: Early voting begins
May 8: Election Day
Source: Indiana Secretary of State
Here’s a look at what Johnson County offices will be up for election in 2018:
U.S. Congress, District 9
Secretary of State
Auditor of State
Treasurer of State
State Senator, District 41
State Representative, District 47, 58, 65 and 93
Circuit Court Judge
Superior Court No. 1 Judge
County Commissioner, District 2
County Council, District 1, 2, 3 and 4
Bargersville Town Council At-large, 2 seats
Edinburgh Town Council At-large, 2 seats
New Whiteland Town Council, Wards 2 and 5
Center Grove School Board At-large, 3 seats
Clark-Pleasant School Board, Clark Township, 2 seats
Clark-Pleasant School Board, Pleasant Township
Edinburgh School Board At-large
Edinburgh School Board, Blue River Township, 2 seats
Franklin School Board, Needham Township
Franklin School Board, Union Township
Greenwood School Board At-large, 2 seats
Greenwood School Board, District 2
Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson School Board, Hensley Township
Blue River Township Trustee
Blue River Township Advisory Board, 3 members
Clark Township Trustee
Clark Township Advisory Board, 3 members
Franklin Township Trustee
Franklin Township Advisory Board, 3 members
Hensley Township Trustee
Hensley Township Advisory Board, 3 members
Needham Township Trustee
Needham Township Advisory Board, 3 members
Nineveh Township Trustee
Nineveh Township Advisory Board, 3 members
Pleasant Township Trustee
Pleasant Township Advisory Board, 3 members
Union Township Trustee
Union Township Advisory Board, 3 members
White River Township Trustee
White River Township Advisory Board, 3 members