By May 6, a Franklin farmer expects to be too busy planting corn to drive into the city to vote.
Mark Brown was the first voter to cast his ballot during early voting at the courthouse Tuesday. More than 3 inches of rain have fallen in the past few days, so his fields are too muddy to get in with heavy equipment.
By the time Election Day comes, he doesn’t want to miss voting because he’s too busy getting his crops in the ground.
“Get out early, and get it done,” Brown said. “If I’ve got something to do, I just get it out of the way.”
Tuesday was the first day for early voting before the May 6 primary, which includes seven contested races on the Republican ballot and one on the Democrat ticket. Voting was slow Tuesday morning, with fewer than 10 people casting ballots before noon.
About 3,600 people cast ballots early in the primary in 2012, which made up about 15 percent of all ballots cast in that election.
Early voting has become more popular in recent years. In the general election in fall 2012, more than 21,000 people voted before Election Day. That number had significantly increased from about 8,000 in the 2008 presidential election.
Convenience is key, since voting early helps to avoid lines and waiting on Election Day. Robert Craven of Franklin was running errands downtown Tuesday. In the past he’s run into 20- to 30-minute waits when voting at his former precinct at a Franklin elementary school, but he was in and out of the early voting site at the courthouse in about five minutes.
“If I went out to Webb Elementary School, they had a lot of voting machines, but there would be 15 to 20 people ahead of me,” Craven said.
Voters will cast ballots in eight contested local races, as well as state and federal offices. Local races include the first contested judge race since 1996, a county recorder race between two veteran local officials and a four-way race for a U.S. representative seat. Residents who were casting ballots Tuesday weren’t showing up because of any particular race on the ballot but instead wanted to cross off voting on their to-do list as soon as possible.
Duane Cartledge has voted early in at least the past half-dozen elections and said casting his ballot early was just more convenient than waiting until Election Day. The weather was nice Tuesday, so it was a good opportunity to get out of the house and vote, he said.
“It’s not raining, not snowing. It’s a nice day to come out and do it,” Cartledge said.
WHERE TO VOTE EARLY
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays
Johnson County Courthouse, 5 E. Jefferson St., Franklin
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays April 26 and May 3
Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria, 100 Byrd Way, Greenwood
Mount Pleasant Christian Church, 381 Bluff Road, Greenwood
Trafalgar Public Library, 424 S. Tower Drive, Trafalgar
Johnson County Courthouse
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 30, May 1 and May 2
Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria
Mount Pleasant Christian Church
Franklin Cultural Arts and Recreation Center, 396 Branigin Blvd., Franklin
Trafalgar Public Library
Edinburgh Wright-Hageman Public Library, 119 W. Main Cross St., Edinburgh
The county’s three large retirement communities each will be an early voting site for one day. Any voter can vote at the centers during those times:
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 28: Greenwood Village South Retirement Community, 183 Smock Drive, Greenwood
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 29: Indiana Masonic Home, 690 State St., Franklin
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 30: Franklin United Methodist Community, 1070 W. Jefferson St., Franklin