Record numbers of Monroe County voters showing up to cast early ballots

Herald Times: With three more days of early voting to go, Monroe County already has eclipsed its previous record for early ballots cast in person.

County Clerk Nicole Browne said that by around 1 p.m. Thursday, 22,221 people had voted early, exceeding the number of early votes cast for the entire two-week period of early voting for the 2012 general election. A total of 21,732 people cast ballots before Election Day four years ago, according to election records.

“We have had an incredible turnout,” Browne said.

Monroe has 112,200 registered voters, and the number of early votes cast so far accounts for 17.4 percent of that number. In comparison, absentee turnout was 45 percent (28,929 of 91,532 registered voters) for the 2008 election, when the county experienced a record overall turnout.

The effect that heavy early voting will have on Election Day turnout is unknown. William Ellis, the Republican member of the county election board, said this election has attracted a wide variety of people for different reasons, and he has met some people who have not voted for decades. For example, he said the travel board assisted someone who had not voted in more than two decades, and this year, that person was voting for only one local candidate.

“I think we will have a good turnout on Election Day as well,” said Carolyn VandeWiele, Democratic member of the election board.

Browne said she encourages people who have not yet cast their vote to consider doing so early as well. Early voting options will continue until noon Monday at the two downtown locations: Election Central, at 401 W. Seventh St.; and the Showers Building, at 501 N. Morton St. in rooms 201-202. Hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. today and Saturday and 8 a.m.-noon on Monday. Both locations will be closed on Sunday.

VandeWiele said there is designated parking for voters at both locations.

Votes can’t be changed

In recent campaign speeches, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said that in some states, if a voter is dissatisfied with the early vote they cast, they can change it.

But that is not the case in Indiana, according to county election board members.

VandeWiele said the news stories suggesting an individual can recast his or her early vote may have confused some local residents.

Browne said that to make this point clear, signs have been posted at each of the locations, reminding voters that once they cast a ballot, there is no redo.

Ellis said that is why he cautions people to make sure they are informed about all the candidates if they choose to vote early.

“I wasn’t discouraging early voting,” Ellis said. “But understand that when you vote, you’ve voted.”

Early voting hours and locations

Election Central, 401 W. Seventh St., and North Showers Building, 501 N. Morton St., rooms 201-202.

• Today and Saturday: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

• Monday: 8 a.m.-noon.

Early voting turnout

2008 — 28,929 (total registered voters: 91,532)

2012 — 21,732 (total registered voters: 104,064)

2016 — 22,221 (total registered voters: 112,200)*

*Total is as of around 1 p.m. on Thursday.