Bartholomew County voter turnout for primary reaches 32 percent

People stand in line to vote in the Indiana Primary Election at Terrace Lake Church in Columbus, Ind., Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

A total of 6,322 voters in Bartholomew County turned out to cast ballots for Indiana’s presidential primary, which was delayed four weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. When the absentee and early votes were tallied, representing a record A record 8,313 votes, the voter turnout for the primary came in at 32 percent.

Lines of voters waiting to mark their choices on Tuesday at one point stretched outside Terrace Lake Church, 4260 W. County Road 200S, nearly into the street, said Bartholomew County Clerk Jay Phelps.

At 4 p.m., there was at least a 15-minute wait to cast votes at Donner Center, 739 22nd St, which had the highest turnout of the eight voting location in the county, with 1,431 votes cast, according to county figures.

Terrace Lake Church had the second most, with 961, followed by St. Johns Masonic Lodge, 4131 Rocky Ford Rd., with 960 and Flintwood Wesleyan Church, 5300 25th St. with 910.

A total of 16,118 people voted in the 2016 presidential primary on election day.

Phelps said election-day turnout this year was about what he expected given an expanded vote-by-mail effort and higher-than-anticipated turnout for early in-person voting at Donner Center.

“Overall, the day went really well. I know there were times where we had some lines but that was expected with the social distancing,” said Bartholomew County Clerk Jay Phelps. “We weren’t going to try to cram everyone in the building at one time so we really appreciate the voters’ patience.”

Tuesday’s presidential primary was Indiana’s first election to feature widespread mail-in balloting after the in-person primary was pushed back four weeks due to the spread of COVID-19 across the state, according to the Associated Press.

Nearly 550,000 voters requested mail-in ballots — more than 10 times the number of those ballots cast during the 2016 primary, according to wire reports.

A record 8,313 Bartholomew County voters cast their ballots by mail this year — 12.5 times more than the 660 mail-in votes in the 2016 presidential primary, according to county records.

Poll workers and election staff took several safety measures aimed at reducing the chance of spreading COVID-19 at local polling sites, including wearing masks and gloves and spacing voters and electronic voting machines out by a least six feet, Phelps said.

On May 14, the Indiana National Guard delivered two pallets of personal protective equipment to Bartholomew County election officials, including 2,450 masks, 1,500 pairs of gloves, 25 gallons of hand sanitizer, 90 smaller bottles of hand sanitizer, 23 gallons of surface cleaner, 47 smaller bottles of surface cleaner and 900 microfiber towels to wipe down surfaces.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.