Voting centers aid in record midterm turnout

May 8 was a good day for Bartholomew County as a record number of registered voters cast ballots in the midterm elections.

This year, 12,302 voters — almost 25 percent of registered voters — cast a ballot. That was about 2,000 more than the 2014 midterm and about 500 more than the previous high in 2006.

Some high-profile races certainly motivated people to vote.

  • The Republican primary for U.S. Senate captured people’s attention statewide and nationally as Luke Messer, Todd Rokita and Mike Braun waged a fierce battle for the nomination.
  • The Bartholomew County sheriff’s race featured three Republican candidates: Incumbent Sheriff Matt Myers and challengers Rob Kittle and Tami Watson. 
  • Each of the four county council races had two opponents in the Republican primaries.
  • The District 59 state representative race featured six Republicans and two Democrats in the primaries.
  • And the Indiana U.S. House 6th District primaries featured five Republican and six Democratic candidates.

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Important choices, across the board.

However, early-voting opportunities and election day voting centers played a role in the better midterm voting turnout, too.

The number of early voters who cast ballots this year in Bartholomew County was double the early turnout from four years ago.

And on Election Day, Bartholomew County could choose from 18 voting centers. Eight were located around Columbus, while others in Hope, Clifford, Taylorsville, Elizabethtown and other geographic areas of the county helped give voters plenty of options to make casting a ballot as easy as possible.

Voters could cast a ballot at whichever voting center was most convenient, a much better scenario than when people were limited to a specific precinct during daytime hours when many people have employment obligations.

Voting centers were introduced in Bartholomew County for the May 2015 city elections, replacing 66 long-standing neighborhood voting precincts.

Good promotion of the voting centers this year by County Clerk Jay Phelps and his staff made people well aware, and the help of many volunteers made the process run smoothly. Phelps, the clerk’s staff and the volunteers have fine-tuned the voting center experience since its introduction, making it more inviting for people to cast ballots, which seemed to be the case this year.

Such ease of voting should be an encouragement for more voters to cast ballots in future elections.