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Election day notebook: Johnson County votes

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Carrying on a tradition

The trip to the vote center in the Center Grove area was part of a decades-long tradition.

The Pottschmidts — Raymond is 93 and Eleanor is 88 — have been married for 70 years. Neither has missed voting in an election since they turned 21, and both came out to vote just before lunchtime at Mount Pleasant Christian Church.

Neither of them could remember the candidates from that first election, but Raymond Pottschmidt thought his first election may have been when Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for re-election. He also remembers hearing about Harry Truman beating Thomas Dewey.

“I made a vow when I turned 18 I would never miss an election,” Eleanor Pottschmidt said. “There have been times where I haven’t really felt like it, but I did it anyway because it’s the right thing to do.”

“My dad always told me if you don’t vote, then don’t holler,” Raymond Pottschmidt said.

— Brian Peloza

‘This is your civic duty’

Jerry Cox is happy the county has voting centers, so he can stay busy when he helps at the polls.

Cox, the inspector at the Mount Pleasant Christian Church vote center, had watched about 240 voters come to cast a ballot by 11 a.m. He remembers one election where only about 15 people showed up to vote all day at a fire station near Stop 18 Road in Pleasant Township.

“We’ve had a very good turnout for a primary,” Cox said. “We’ve had a few times where the machines have been full, and that’s good. I’m surprised the turnout has been this good.”

Cox did not work in the previous election in 2012, so he had some concerns about his first time working as an inspector for an election with vote centers.

“You should have a little bit of apprehension, there is a lot of responsibility involved,” Cox said. “This is your civic duty to do something like this. It’s something I truly enjoy doing because we’re doing a community service by helping the public vote.”

— Brian Peloza

Busiest vote centers

Here’s a look at the top 10 vote centers and how many people had cast ballots there by noon:

Greenwood Community Center: 303

White River library, Greenwood: 290

Mount Pleasant Christian Church, Center Grove area: 268

Mount Auburn United Methodist Church, Center Grove area: 213

Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria, Greenwood: 203

Greenwood Christian Church: 202

Grace United Methodist Church, Franklin: 187

Franklin recreation center: 182

Bargersville Town Hall: 171

Johnson Memorial Hospital, Franklin: 164

— Steve Garbacz

Starting the day slowly

The first of the day’s expected rushes was pretty slow for the poll workers at Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria.

By 7 a.m., 12 people had cast ballots at the voting center in Greenwood. Inspector Allen Distler wasn’t sure how many voters to expect Tuesday. But with few contested races and this being the primary election, turnout would be light.

Distler had expected that about one-third of his site’s voters would come through on their way to work. He expected to see more voters around noon, during their lunch breaks, and again around 5 p.m. as people headed home.

Months ago Johnson County Clerk Susie Misiniec said she was hoping for a 20 percent turnout this election. Now the hope is that more than 10 percent of voters would make it to the polls.

— Tom Lange

Convenience is key

After stopping for a quick bite to eat around 1 p.m., Zach Proctor stopped by the White River library branch to cast his ballot before the end of his lunch break.

The Whiteland resident likes the convenience of vote centers. Voters could only go to one specific precinct when Proctor moved to Whiteland.

“The first time I voted I went to the wrong spot and had to drive to a different school,” he said. “That was a little bit of a hassle, so I like being able to use the central locations.”

Proctor was most interested in the race for the new Superior Court 4 judge, choosing Joe Villanueva in the Republican primary.

“I chose him because of his stance on the Constitution and that it’s not a living document,” Proctor said. “That’s what I want to make sure is represented by me.”

— Brian Peloza

Not just a primary

Some Greenwood residents take Tuesday’s election just as seriously as any other.

Resident Becky Weber hasn’t been following many of the county’s races closely. But she also knows the decisions she and other voters made when casting their ballots will affect the November ballot and was ready to vote at 7 a.m. at Jonathan Byrd’s in Greenwood.

“It’s Election Day. If you don’t do the primary and get it right, the (general) elections don’t go any better,” she said.

Jeff Hoots and his family moved from Carmel to Greenwood in October, and voting is a way for Hoots to get more involved in the community.

Hoots has voted in every primary and general election since he was 18.

“It’s just what I’ve always done and always will do,” he said.

— Tom Lange

A smooth Election Day

Most of the calls to the courthouse the morning of Election Day came from voters trying to find a nearby vote center.

The county wasn’t getting reports of voting machines breaking down, poll workers said the new bar code scanners were working great, and voters weren’t finding long lines at the county’s 21 vote centers, Johnson County Clerk Susie Misiniec said. She knocked her knuckles on a wooden table in the hope the rest of the day went that way.

Turnout wasn’t nearly as high as during the primary election in 2012, when vote centers were crowded, Misiniec said. That’s not the case this year, as voters trickled in to polling sites to cast ballots. So few problems have been reported, she said.

“The first primary, we didn’t expect the outpouring and had to rush out more voting machines,” she said.

The busiest vote center, at the Greenwood Community Center, had 303 voters in the first six hours after polls opened.

Voting might pick up during the second half of the day if people stopped to vote on their lunch break or after work, but Misiniec was still expecting 10 to 15 percent of the county’s voters to come out, she said.

—Steve Garbacz

History as a poll worker

Lynn Scott’s mother worked at the polls in Shelbyville for about 35 years, and the vacation days she took and the hours she spent at voting sites left an impression on her daughter.

“I have never missed voting, ever,” Scott said.

Because of her mom’s example, she votes in the primaries and the general election, Scott said. She was there ready to have her say at about 3:30 p.m. at Grace United Methodist Church in Franklin.

She is disappointed more people don’t do the same, she said. The county clerk worried turnout may not even hit 10 percent this primary election.

“It’s very sad,” Scott said. “It’s a privilege to be able to choose your candidate.”

— Kate Knable

Starting early

Just after 8 a.m. Tuesday, 5-year-old Maryn Zaborowsky got a firsthand lesson on how to vote in an election.

She followed her father, Chris Zaborowsky, as he checked in at the Community Church of Greenwood, filled out his ballot and picked up “I Voted” stickers for himself and his daughter.

Zaborowsky also took his daughter through the voting line during the 2012 presidential election. Zaborowsky typically votes in every election, and he wants his daughter to learn early what to expect when it’s time for her to cast a ballot.

“I think it’s important for her to see the voting process and get used to it so, when she’s old enough, she’s encouraged to do it herself,” Zaborowski said.

— Tom Lange

Picking up the pace

While voting was off to a slow start in some areas, some vote centers in Greenwood had better than expected turnout.

The Greenwood Community Center and Greenwood Christian Church had steady streams of voters coming through by 8 a.m., which surprised vote center inspectors Shannon Barrick and Heather Overton.

“It’s very steady. I’m surprised,” Barrick said. “We’ve had more voting than I anticipated so far.”

When the polls opened at 6 a.m. at the community center, there were about six people in line — considerably fewer than when lines have stretched down hallways at the start of previous elections.

But the turnout of voters at the community center had been steady. At 8 a.m., all of the center’s voting machines were in use. And at Greenwood Christian Church, 84 people had cast ballots within the first two hours after polls opened, Overton said.

Barrick also was pleased to see more younger voters turning out for the primary election.

“In a primary, typically there’s probably more older voters. But I’ve seen quite a few younger voters as well,” she said.

— Tom Lange

Parental lessons

As a child, every morning when Karen Draper woke up, her mother was in the kitchen cooking.

But on Election Day, the light was on and her parents were gone.

“It impressed me that they thought it was important to vote,” Draper said.

She votes in every election, including the primaries, because she considers it her civic responsibility, she said. She cast her ballot just after 2 p.m. Tuesday at Grace United Methodist Church in Franklin, joining a small turnout of other voters due to few contested races.

“I learned that from my mama and daddy in the 1950s,” she said.

— Kate Knable

‘Can’t gripe if you don’t’

Tonya Philpott was thinking of her future grandchildren when she cast her ballot Tuesday.

She said she wants candidates to uphold her values, such as hard work to make the community better for the future.

She helps with the county museum and attends city council meetings so she can know what’s happening in the community, and she encourages her children to be involved, as well. That’s why she made sure to go out and cast her ballot around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at Grace United Methodist Church in Franklin.

“(You) can’t gripe if you don’t vote,” she said.

— Kate Knable

Voting together

The Myers family votes together for multiple reasons, including the fact that Nick Myers needs his wife, Cindy, to read his ballot to him.

Nick Myers is legally blind, so Cindy Myers joined him at the voting booth at 2:30 p.m. at Grace United Methodist Church in Franklin and read the names of the candidates so he could cast his vote. He has to vote himself and can see well enough to pick the box but not well enough to read the smaller print of the candidates’ names.

They had to sign an affidavit to have both of them at a booth, Cindy Myers said.

They also brought their daughter Myanna, 6, to the polls so she can see how to vote.

“We teach her to do what we do,” Nick Myers said.

— Kate Knable

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