More efficient democracy

When early voting begins Tuesday for the 2015 city primary election, the process will be much the same it has been in recent years — with one exception.

The check-in process should go quicker.

Although Columbus voters have always had to provide identification when checking in at polling locations, starting Tuesday they will swipe their Indiana driver’s licenses or government-issued identification card on the new electronic poll pad, voter registration deputy Taylor Seegraves said.

Voters will then receive a paper receipt that will allow a poll worker to pull up the correct ballot.

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No more waiting for poll workers to flip through computer printouts to compare the name and address on your ID against the long list of registered voters.

No more wondering if you’re in the right polling place or the right line at multiple-precinct locations.

Your only worry will be finding the names of the candidates you support on the electronic voting machines — and that’s no easier or harder than before.

As is always the case with primary elections, voters will have to request a Republican or Democratic party ballot. And then they will be able to vote for mayor, clerk-treasurer, their district city council representative and two at-large representatives, depending on the party ballot they declare.

Republicans have fielded candidates in all races. Democrats have three council candidates on the ballot — in Districts 1 and 2, and at-large — and none of them have opposition.

Where you can vote

For the next three weeks, ballots may be cast from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Bartholomew County Courthouse.

Starting April 25, voters in Columbus will need to start forgetting their old precinct habits — when there were 33 city precincts and 33 more elsewhere in Bartholomew County — as the new Internet-based voting center system is launched.

Beginning that Saturday, the number of early voting locations widen from one to three — the courthouse plus the west-side MainSource Bank branch and Grace Lutheran Church.

Beginning the week of April 27, Donner Center will join the courthouse in accepting early ballots on weekdays. The hours at Donner Center are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On the final two Saturdays before Election Day, two more locations — MainSource Bank and Grace Lutheran Church — join the mix.

Then on Election Day, voters across the city who have not already cast ballots will take their pick among eight voting centers located in different parts of Columbus, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Registered voters in the city can choose any of the eight locations to cast their ballots, Bartholomew County Clerk Jay Phelps said.

Each of them will be marked with yard signs, just like in the precinct system of the past, Phelps said.

“Remember that thereis no wrong place to vote,” he said.

On Election Day, each of the voting centers will have 12 machines that can be used at all times, Phelps said. That’s in contrast to a maximum of four machines per location during the precinct system.

Turnout levels

With no incumbent running for mayor of Columbus in 2011, the primary attracted 24.2 percent of all eligible voters.

Kristen Brown, who emerged victorious that night against three other GOP mayoral candidates, went on to defeat Democrat Priscilla Scalf in the November general election.

That 2011 turnout was unusually high for a city primary. Voter turnout was 6.57 percent in the 2007 primary, and 10.44 percent four years earlier.

Busy or not, voters will have a number of ways of knowing what to expect before they head out to cast their ballots on May 5.

Election officials will use Facebook, as well as traditional local media, to let the public know if some vote centers are busier than others, Phelps said.

Beforehand, Phelps’ office will also mail notices regarding the changes that come with the new vote center system to all registered voters.

Realizing that old habits sometimes die hard, notices will be posted at former precinct locations that will provide the locations of the new vote centers, the county clerk said.

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Early voting begins Tuesday at the Bartholomew County Voter Registration Office in the Courthouse, and later at three satellite locations starting in late April.

Here are the early voting options for registered voters in Bartholomew county, with locations, dates and times.

Bartholomew County Courthouse, 234 Washington St.: Tuesday through May 4 on weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; final two Saturdays before Election Day, April 25 and May 2, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Donner Center, 739 22nd St.: Entire week of April 27-May 1, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; also May 2, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Main Source Bank, 2310 Jonathan Moore Pike (not all Columbus banking locations): Final two Saturdays before Election Day, April 25 and May 2, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Grace Lutheran Church, 3201 Central Avenue: Final two Saturdays before Election Day, April 25 and May 2, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Here are the locations of the eight voting centers in Columbus that will be open during the May 5 primary election. Polling hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

  • St. John’s Masonic Lodge, 4131 Rocky Ford Road.
  • Grace Lutheran Church, 3201 Central Avenue.
  • Healing Waters Church, 2330 Midway
  • Donner Center, 739 22nd Street.
  • East Columbus United Methodist Church, 2439 Indiana Ave.
  • The Commons, 300 Washington Street.
  • Main Source Bank (west side location only), 2310 West Jonathan Moore Pike.
  • Terrace Lake Church, 4260 West County Road 200S.   

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Residents with questions about voting and the upcoming May primary election can call the Bartholomew County Voter Registration office at 812-379-1604.

Answers to frequently asked questions, as well as other information, are available on the county website. Visit

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Local residents have until Monday to register to vote in the May 5 primary election.

Today is the final day to register to vote for the city primary election.

You can register at the Bartholomew County Courthouse, 234 Washington St., during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Information: 812-379-1604.

People also can register online: Visit and follow the instructions. Deadline is 11:59 p.m. today.