If you haven’t registered to vote or updated your address after a move, you’ll have to do so by Monday in order to cast a ballot in the upcoming primary election.
The number of people signing up for the first time in Johnson County or changing information has been about average for a year without a presidential election, with about 200 new registrations or updates filed in the past week, voter registration office deputy Reagan Higdon said.
If new voters or new county residents don’t register by the deadline, they won’t be eligible to vote in the May 6 primary. Residents who have moved within the county since the last election in 2012 will still be able to vote, but they might not get the right ballot with races for candidates that represent their new address if they haven’t updated their registration, Johnson County Clerk Sue Anne Misiniec said.
The deadline to register or update information is Monday, and early voting begins at the courthouse Tuesday. Voters will be able to cast ballots on weekdays the month up to the election and the two weekends before Election Day. Contested races on this year’s ballot include Republican candidates for two county council seats, county auditor and recorder, judge for the new Superior Court 4 and township trustee in Franklin and Hensley townships. Three candidates are vying for the Democrat nomination for U.S. representative.
Since the beginning of March, the number of registered voters has increased to 98,023. Candidates have been running quiet campaigns, which hasn’t drummed up many new registrations for the countywide primary, Misiniec said.
The county election board reduced the number of sites and number of days for early voting because members expect a lower turnout than the presidential election in 2012 — the first year the county used vote centers. Misiniec hopes at least 25 percent of the county’s voters will cast ballots in the primary this year.
Registrations and voter turnout are always highest in presidential election years because the national campaigns last for months and dominate the news, so people are more likely to vote. This year’s election is for mostly local offices, which don’t draw as much attention unless there is a hot topic on the ballot, such as a building referendum, Misiniec said.
The county might get a higher number of new registrations before the fall general election, since that ballot will have several school board races, she said. After the primary, would-be voters will have another chance to register in order to be able to vote in the fall general election.
“The candidates will be determined, and we’ll have school board races, and that will always bring people out. And the county offices, as long as the job is getting done, the people don’t necessarily care as much,” Misiniec said.
Voters can register or update their information in person in the office on the lower level of the courthouse in Franklin until 4:30 p.m. Monday, Higdon said. Most of the changes the county gets come from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, but a few people, including 18-year-olds voting for the first time or senior citizens who have just moved into the county, are coming into the office, she said.
If you’ve moved within the county since last year, you’ll need to update your registration to get the right ballot, Misiniec said. Since the county uses vote centers, a person can cast a ballot at any location in the county — for example, an Edinburgh resident can vote in Greenwood. But if a voter has moved from Edinburgh to Greenwood, that person would be represented by a different state representative, senator, township trustee, county council members and school board, Misiniec said.
Once registration closes, early voting will begin. Voters can start casting ballots on April 8 at the courthouse. The county election board will be testing the voting machines this week to make sure the ballots display correctly and that votes are recorded and download properly.
How to register
Voters have several different ways to update their registration or register for the first time:
Bureau of Motor Vehicles: When updating your driver’s license, staff can forward your new address information to the county to update your voter registration.
Online: Visit www.indianavoters.com and choose either “Register to Vote Online” or “Update My Voter Registration.” If you’re not sure whether you’re registered at your current address, you also can check your current registration.
By mail: If you don’t have Internet access or are unable to leave your home, call the county voter registration office at 317-346-4466 and ask to be mailed an application.
In person: Visit the voter registration office at the Johnson County courthouse in Franklin. You’ll need to bring a current, state-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license to be able to register.
Are you registered? People who want to check their current registration can contact the county at 346-4466 or check online at www.indianavoters.com.
98,023: Voters registered in Johnson County as of March 28
114: Number of new voters registered since March 7
205: Number of new or updated registrations filed within the past week
8: Contested races in this year’s primary
25 percent: Turnout expected for primary, according to Johnson County Clerk Sue Anne Misiniec