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Turnout high for Johnson County but short of record

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Johnson County had historic record-breaking turnout during early voting this fall and then long lines during Election Day.

A total of 57,949 Johnson County residents voted for president, governor, senator and other races. About 60 percent of registered voters cast ballots during early voting and on Election Day.

That figure was on par with the 2004 turnout but fell short of the record turnout during the most recent presidential election in 2008, when 64 percent of Johnson County residents voted.

Johnson County Clerk Sue Anne “Susie” Misiniec described the turnout as huge. Residents came out to vote because they were interested in the presidential race and unhappy with the sluggish economy, she said.

Good weather also helped, Misiniec said. Voters didn’t have to contend with rain, cold or any other weather that would keep them away from the polls.

“The turnout’s been fantastic,” she said. “They’ve been busy all day. Voting has been steady all day. And from what I’ve heard there were a lot of lines in the northern part of the county.”

The clerk’s office had to send two or three additional voting machines to a few of the busier vote centers such as the Greenwood Community Center, Misiniec said. A 30-minute line snaked around the inside of the building and stretched into the basketball court.

“There was the typical rush of people at the start,” she said. “But it stayed pretty heavy throughout the day.”

The clerk’s office had to send more electronic poll books to vote centers at Mount Pleasant Christian Church, Greenwood Christian Church and Mount Auburn United Methodist Church, which had long lines. The extra poll books helped poll workers check in voters more quickly at those sites, Misiniec said.

Johnson County also had lines of an hour or more during the primary election, when about 25 percent of registered voters turned out. The clerk’s office responded by putting 20 to 25 machines at each vote center, or more than twice as many in some cases.

This time, most vote centers had more than enough voting machines, Misiniec said. Voting machines in fact often were unused at some vote centers because poll workers couldn’t check voters in fast enough, she said.

Turnout typically is high in presidential elections. About 56 percent of registered voters in Johnson County cast ballots in 2000. About 60 percent voted in 2004.

The 2008 presidential election set a record for Johnson County with 64 percent turnout.

Misiniec had said she expected turnout to be at least 50 or 60 percent but thought it could be higher and even surpass 2008 based on the early voting.

Turnout during early voting was high, crushing the record set in the most recent presidential election. About 7,200 voters cast early ballots four years ago, but that was when the Johnson County Courthouse was the only early voting site.

This time, the county opened up seven additional sites across the county for early voting, which nearly tripled. More than 21,000 Johnson County residents, or about one in five registered voters, cast their ballots before Election Day.

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