Early voting on pace to set record

A record number of people turned out to cast ballots during the first week of early voting for the citywide municipal election next month.

As of 3:20 p.m. on Friday, 151 people had voted at the Bartholomew County Courthouse, said Bartholomew County Clerk Jay Phelps. An additional 120 people had cast mail-in ballots.

The previous record for the most in-person votes cast during the first week of early voting was 84 in 2011. In 2015, 58 votes were cast during the first week of early voting.

“That’s a steady start,” Phelps said. “Normally, the first week is fairly quiet.”

Early voting started on Tuesday, and a record 57 people cast ballots at the courthouse — tripling the previous record that was set in 2011 when 19 people voted on the first of early voting, Phelps said.

The first voter to cast a ballot was Margaret Meredith, who voted at 8:03 a.m. on Tuesday, said Shari Lentz, Bartholomew County voter registration and election supervisor.

This year, all five city council districts, plus two city council at-large seats, are up for grabs. Early voting will continue until Nov. 2. Election day is Nov. 5.

The previous Columbus municipal election, held in 2015, saw the lowest turnout since at least 1995, according to county records.

In 2015, 5,132 people voted, or 16.4% of registered voters. In 2011, 9,997 voters voted, or 33.1% of registered voters, the highest turnout since at least 1995.

Though it has only been four days, turnout is on pace to top the 2011 election.

Phelps said the higher-than-normal turnout so far is “very encouraging,” especially since mayor’s race is uncontested.

“It shows some voter enthusiasm,” Phelps said. “They’re excited about the candidates.”