Officials: Primary vote off to good start

http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/news/local/officials-primary-vote-off-to-good-start/article_4698505f-8fb4-550f-ac00-e72591518b6e.html

Monroe County had 635 people visit Election Central in the first week of early voting to cast a ballot in the May 3 primary.

“I think it is a great start,” Elections Supervisor Tressia Martin said Friday.

She added that as Election Day gets closer, she expects more people to take advantage of the early voting option. She said many people so far have been coming in between noon and 2 p.m. to vote, adding that she encourages more people to vote early if they can, because typically there are no lines, and the process can be completed relatively quickly.

One reason election officials anticipate more voters this year is because voter registrations also picked up before Monday’s deadline to register for the May primary. Last week alone, the county recorded 2,300 new registrations; however, Martin couldn’t provide a final overall number of new registered voters.

Members of the Monroe County Election Board were pleased to see more people interested in voting. However, Republican appointee and board member William Ellis said that registering is only part of the process; the next step for both parties is to get these new voters to the polls to vote, not just in the primary but also the general election.

“I think we have a goal as a board that we are not going to be last in our region for voter turnout this year,” Ellis said. “I think we need to lead the way. We do in everything else in Bloomington and Monroe County. I think it is time that we lead the way on that.”

During the last presidential primary, 16 percent of Monroe County’s registered voters went to the polls. Around the area for the same election, Brown County had a 29 percent turnout, with 25 percent in Greene, 28 percent in Morgan and 25 percent in Lawrence.

Residents wishing to vote early have several options available to them. Voting can be done either in person or by mail, or voters can have a traveling board visit their homes if they meet certain criteria.

Voting in person happens at Election Central, in the voter registration office at 401 W. Seventh St., near the intersection of Seventh and Morton streets. It will be open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until April 15 for early voting. Starting April 18, in addition to Election Central, a second early voting location will be at the North Showers Building at 501 N. Morton St. in room 201. The Monroe County Election Board added the second spot to handle anticipated increased turnout. Weekday hours will remain the same after April 18, but both early voting locations will be open on Saturday April 23 and 30 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. as well as on May 2 — the last day of early voting — from 8 a.m. to noon.

There is also the option to vote absentee-by-mail, if the registered voter meets one of a list of criteria. Those include voters with a disability,those 65 years and older, voters with a reasonable expectation that they will not be in the county on Election Day, those who can’t get away from their jobs on Election Day, those confined due to illness or injury and their caregivers, members of the military, public safety officers and poll workers with official election duties outside their precinct.

During the county election board meeting Thursday, Democratic board appointee Carolyn VandeWiele said voters have until midnight on April 25 to vote by mail. The application can be found on the Indiana secretary of state’s website at www.in.gov/sos/elections/2402.htm and can be mailed, emailed, faced or hand delivered.

For those wishing to use the traveling board, VandeWiele said the bipartisan group will go to those who request the service starting April 14. The application form has to be turned in by noon the day before the election, and may be sent by mail, fax or hand-delivered by a proxy, but not sent by email. Voters wanting to know if they qualify for either absentee voting-by-mail or would like an application for the travel board can call 812-349-2612.