Weary of negative campaigning, voters turning out in record numbers

Staff Reports

Local interest in the Nov. 8 general election is running at a fever pitch.

The number of Bartholomew County registered voters for the general election has exceeded the previous high from 2008 by 6 percent and is up 10 percent from the 2012 general election.

An even bigger difference has been seen in the number of early voters, with numbers from the first week running at three times the amount from 2008 and up 64 percent from the first full week of 2012.

While it may or may not be a factor in the trends, early voters in Bartholomew County have been complaining about negative campaigning in statewide and national races, said County Clerk Jay Phelps, who oversees the election.

Between television commercials and televised debates, the races for president and U.S. Senate in Indiana have been highly confrontational. The Indiana governor’s race also has produced negative campaign commercials.

“I do believe they (voters) want to put this election behind them, but there’s an element of excitement, too,” Phelps said, especially among first-time voters.

One recent example was a new citizen from England, who was anxious to cast a ballot in the United States.

“It’s so neat to see democracy work,” Phelps said.

The deadline to register was Oct. 11, and 56,937 confirmed registrations counted as of Tuesday. That number could increase slightly by the end of the month, Phelps said.

But regardless of what the final tally turns out to be, the number of Bartholomew County registered voters will be a record, and the pace of early voting is also well ahead of comparable elections.

As of the close of business Tuesday, 1,858 voters had cast ballots in the first five days of early voting.

That compares to 1,131 during the first five days of early voting in 2012, and 660 voters during the first five days of 2008.