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Register before April deadline to cast ballot in primary

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If you’ve moved since the last time you headed to the polls, you’ve got one month left to update your voter registration in order to cast ballots in May.

The registration deadline to vote in the primary is April 7 and early voting at the Johnson County Courthouse starts the next day. Residents will need to update their registration if they have moved from another state or county to be allowed to vote at all, while people who have moved within the county need to update their address to ensure they get the right ballot on Election Day, Johnson County Clerk Sue Anne Misiniec said.

Voters have several options on how to register, including at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles when updating their driver’s license, online, mail-in applications or a personal visit to the voter registration office in Franklin, voter registration office deputy Reagan Higdon said.

The county’s nearly 98,000 voters can head to polls on May 6 for the primary, which includes contested races for a Democratic nominee for U.S. representative and a new judge, auditor, recorder, county council seats and township trustees on the Republican ticket.

Residents who moved from outside Johnson County won’t be able to vote in May if they don’t register here, Misiniec said. Voters who moved within the county since they last voted should also update their registration otherwise they won’t get the right ballot, she said.

For example, a person who moved from White River Township to Trafalgar would have different state representatives, county council members and township trustees on their ballot because they’ve moved into different districts, Misiniec said. Since the county uses vote centers, meaning people can vote at any site and not only at a specific polling place near their home, poll workers wouldn’t necessarily know if a person is getting the correct ballot.

Poll workers might be able to make a change to get the right ballot if the voter notices they didn’t update their registration, but changing the address ahead of time will ensure that the vote will count, Misiniec said.

The county currently has 97,909 registered voters and new voters are added more often than names are removed due to deaths or imprisonment, Higdon said. Most of the new or updated registrations come from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and a few continue to trickle in each day. New registrations have been coming in slower compared to the presidential election in 2012, but Higdon expected registration requests to pick up in the final month as candidates start going door-to-door.

“They’ll start really pushing more, especially when this weather breaks. They’ll get out and start walking and they’ll help register people,” Higdon said.

Anyone who is registered but hasn’t voted in the past two federal elections in 2012 and 2008 will have an inactive registration, Higdon said. Typically inactive registrations remain in the system for another few years and will become active again if the person votes in any election. Inactive registrations that have been in the system for multiple years after being flagged may have been removed, but a person would have been notified by mail if their registration was canceled, Higdon said.

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