About one out of five registered voters in Johnson County cast ballots early, but officials still are bracing for a surge of voters today.
At least 30,000 people are expected to vote today, and the Johnson County Clerk’s Office has been getting ready for a bigger-than-average turnout.
They’ve added three vote centers and as many as 11 more voting machines to each site. Poll workers have been coached to tell voters about where to find vote centers with shorter lines if too many people are waiting to vote. Extra poll workers and voting machines will be on standby to be sent across the county if needed, Johnson County Clerk Sue Anne “Susie” Misiniec said.
“We’ll have extra machines and extra personnel to send,” she said. “We’re already sending 20 machines, 25 machines to some of these vote centers. That’s unheard of.”
Where to vote
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday. Here’s where to cast your vote:
Bargersville Town Hall, 24 N. Main Street, Bargersville
American Legion Post 233, 500 Memorial Drive, Edinburgh
Edinburgh Public Library, 119 W. Main Cross St., Edinburgh
Franklin Church of Christ, 3600 N. Morton Street, Franklin
Franklin Community Center, 396 Branigin Blvd., Franklin
Grace United Methodist Church, 1300 E. Adams Drive, Franklin
Johnson Memorial Hospital professional building, 1159 W. Jefferson St., Franklin
Amity Volunteer Fire Department, 3247 S. County Road 550E, Franklin
White River Township
Mt. Pleasant Christian Church, 381 N. Bluff Road, Greenwood
White River Public Library, 1664 Library Blvd., Greenwood
Greenwood Community Center, 100 Surina Way, Greenwood
Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria, 100 Byrd Way, Greenwood
Rocklane Christian Church, 4430 Rocklane Road, Greenwood
Mt. Auburn Methodist Church, 3100 W. Stones Crossing Road, Greenwood
Greenwood Christian Church, 2045 Averitt Road, Greenwood
White River Township Trustee’s Office, 2929 S. Morgantown Road, Greenwood
Community Church of Greenwood, 1477 W. Main St., Greenwood
Clark-Pleasant Public Library, 530 Tracy Road, New Whiteland
GracePoint Church, 330 Whiteland Road, New Whiteland
Prince’s Lakes Town Hall, 14 E. Lakeview Drive, Nineveh
Fair Haven Christian Church, 1476 W. County Road 300S, Trafalgar
Trafalgar Public Library, 424 S. Tower St., Trafalgar
Turnout has been record-breaking in Johnson County so far. Nearly 21,000 residents voted early, nearly tripling the record of about 7,288 set during the last presidential election.
However, Johnson County has been an anomaly with turnout across central Indiana and the state, said Brian Vargus, a political consultant and former IUPUI professor. Across central Indiana, fewer voters cast ballots early this year than during the previous two presidential elections, Vargus said.
“There’s a strange lack of enthusiasm that you can see from the simply old indicator of driving around to see how many signs you see,” he said.
Indiana isn’t considered a swing state in the presidential election the way it was in 2008, and voters repeatedly have heard that the election will come down to a few states, such as Ohio, Vargus said. Indiana residents aren’t as interested as they were when they thought their vote might make more of a difference in the outcome of the presidential race, he said.
“We’ve kept hearing that the swing states are the only states that matter,” he said.
Early voting likely was so strong in Johnson County because the vote centers made it easier and more convenient for most people to vote, Vargus said.
Residents were able to go to seven additional vote centers around the county during early voting, instead of only having the option of going to the Johnson County Courthouse in Franklin.
Higher early voting turnout in Johnson County might not mean higher overall turnout during the election, Vargus said. More voters might be casting ballots during early voting because it’s become more convenient, he said.
Misiniec said she expects an overall turnout of at least 50 to 60 percent for this year’s election but wouldn’t be surprised if it exceeded the turnout in past presidential elections.
Johnson County residents might be demographically more inclined to vote than others in Indiana, Misiniec said. For example, the county has three major retirement centers, and seniors typically are far more likely to vote.
The county has tried to be ready for a large turnout by adding vote centers at the White River Township Trustee Office, the Amity fire station and Community Church of Greenwood, she said. Voters can go to any of 22 vote centers across the county.
Misiniec hopes that voters won’t have to wait in long lines to cast ballots at the vote centers. Each vote center had six to 14 machines during the primary, when about 25 percent of registered voters cast ballots. The centers will have at least 20 voting machines for this general election, and busy vote centers, such as Mount Pleasant Christian Church in the Center Grove area, will have 25 machines, Misiniec said.
“We want to get those folks in and out,” she said.
Poll workers will check in with the clerk’s office over the course of the day to report how long their lines are. The office can send more machines or poll workers if needed or have inspectors tell voters that they might not have to wait as long at other vote centers, Misiniec said.
Misiniec said some voters might prefer to cast ballots at a vote center they’re used to and comfortable with, but others will be in a hurry and less inclined to wait.
“If there are huge lines at the White River Township library on State Road 135, you’re not far as the crow flies from the Community Church of Greenwood,” she said. “It might not be as backed up, and the inspectors have be instructed to tell people where they might be able to find shorter lines.”
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County government offices closed
State and county offices will be closed today. City government offices in Franklin and Greenwood will be open.
What to bring
You’ll need a photo ID issued by the state or federal government to cast a ballot. In most cases, an Indiana driver’s license, Indiana photo ID card, U.S. passport or military ID is sufficient.
Need an ID?
Full-service Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles branches will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. today. The branches will process only identification cards and driver’s licenses. No other license branch services will be offered. To get an identification card, which is free, or a driver’s license, you must bring: Proof of identity, such as a birth certificate or passport. Proof of Social Security, such as a Social Security card, pay stub or W-2. Proof of lawful status, such as a birth certificate or passport. Proof of residency, two documents such as a voter registration card, utility bill or bank statement.
Need more information?
Voters can visit the Indiana secretary of state’s voter information portal at indianavoters.com to find information on whether they are registered to vote, how to cast an absentee ballot and the state voter identification law. Voters also can call the state’s hotline from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. today at 866-461-8683 to ask questions and report election fraud or accessibility issues.
Who is on your ballot?
The secretary of state also has set up a feature called Who’s on Your Ballot on the indianavoters.com website, where voters can find out information about what offices will be on their ballots. The website asks for the county where you live, your name and date of birth and then builds a ballot with every race and candidate you will be asked to vote on.
What’s the same?
Voters will cast ballots on the same voting machines as usual. The process of voting will be nearly the same as in past years for voters when they show up at a polling place for early voting or on Election Day.
The biggest difference is that voters now can cast ballots anywhere at 22 polling sites across the county. Vote centers replaced the traditional system of voting, where voters cast ballots at a location near their home.
Voters no longer will sign a paper poll book, where poll workers find their name in an alphabetical list. Instead, poll workers will look your name up in a tablet computer and verify you have not already voted. The worker then will select your name, and a receipt will print out, showing your name and precinct. You will need to sign that receipt.
Voters no longer need to sign out when they finish voting. That was done in the past to help track the number of people who voted, but that is no longer necessary.
In the past, one of the biggest concerns on Election Day was when voters were told they were not at the right polling site and needed to go elsewhere to vote. But that won’t happen with vote centers. As long as voters are registered and live in Johnson County, they can vote at any of the vote centers.
What you should know
Voters should know their precinct number so they can verify they are getting the correct ballot. Your precinct number is printed on the receipt you sign when checking in at the polling site. In the past, poll workers worked in a specific precinct and only had one option for the ballot number they could choose. Now, voters can cast ballots anywhere in the county, requiring poll workers to select each voter’s ballot off a list on the voting machine.
Changes to voting sites
The number of voting sites has been reduced significantly, from 75 or more in past elections, to 22 vote centers. Election officials tried to pick vote centers that were near or along major routes through the county, were in different areas throughout the county and had enough parking and Internet access.
Each former polling site will have a poster saying where the new vote centers are located.
What to expect
On Election Day, some vote centers will have as many as nine employees each and the busiest site will have 25 voting machines, an increase from the primary election. More voting machines can be delivered quickly if lines begin to form.
New names and districts
After the 2010 Census, state officials did a redistricting of state and federal offices. That changed some of Johnson County’s congressional, state House and state Senate districts. Local voters now will vote for one congressional district, instead of three. The county will be represented by three state senators instead of five, and one of the county’s state representative districts also changed. The boundaries of most of the offices that represent Johnson County also changed.
For some voters, that will mean a new name or a new district number on their ballot. The county also updated precinct boundaries to split up some of the precincts with too many voters. That could mean voters are in a new precinct. But with vote centers, they do not have to go to a polling site connected with their address and can vote anywhere at the county’s 22 vote centers.
Due to a change in state law, you can now buy alcohol while the polls are open on Election Day.