The first week of early voting in the November general election got off to a fast start in Bartholomew County. Local election officials expect its attractiveness will grow over the next three weeks.
As of late Thursday afternoon, 415 people had cast ballots at the courthouse in Columbus since early voting began Monday. That is a 48 percent increase from the same time during the 2008 presidential campaign.
“I’m happy to vote, and I always do it,” said Doug Stazy, who lives in western Bartholomew County. “But early voting means that I can go do other things on Election Day.”
County Clerk Tami Hines said having five machines available for early voting has significantly reduced the time it takes to cast a ballot.
“In 2008, we had two- to three-hour lines because we only had two machines.” Hines said.
But she also felt that requests to mail 1,061 absentee ballots is even more impressive. That number represents a 335 percent increase from four years ago.
Hines said several voters have expressed their strong approval of early-voting options.
“They don’t have to worry if they get sick or at the last minute have to go out of town on Election Day,” Hines said. “They just want to make sure that they got to vote.”
Dorothy Green of Columbus, who cast her vote Wednesday, agreed with Hines.
“I wanted to vote without much stress, so I came in now to vote easy,” Green said.
Besides avoiding Election Day lines, Tipton Lakes resident Donald Trapp expressed another valid reason to vote early.
“I may be working at the polls that day, so this is the best time for me to do it,” he said.
Those who wish to vote early at the courthouse are reminded that the Washington Street entrance has been closed so that voting machines could be placed in the hallway. Voters should enter through the Third Street entrance facing the Commons.
Early voting at the courthouse will continue from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It also will be conducted from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the two Saturdays before the Nov. 6 election.
The last chance to vote early will be from 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 5.
Early voting at the Bartholomew County Courthouse during the first four days:
- 2012: 415
- 2008: 281
- Variance: +48 percent
Mailed absentee ballot requests, 26 days prior to general election:
- 2012: 1,061
- 2008: 244
- Change: +335 percent
Hours for absentee voting at courthouse:
- Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Oct. 28 and Nov. 3: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Nov. 5: 8 a.m.-noon
The Washington Street entrance to the Bartholomew County Courthouse is closed. Early voters should enter through the Third Street entrance.