PRIMARY SEASON: County officials set voting locations for primary

The bipartisan Bartholomew County Election Board has set in-person voting locations for the May 3 primary as officials prepare for the second election cycle to take place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In-person early voting will be at the former JC Penney store at NexusPark in Columbus weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from April 5 to 29 and May 2 from 8 a.m. to noon, said Bartholomew County Clerk Shari Lentz.

Additionally, early voting will be held at the former JC Penney store 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the two Saturdays prior to election day — April 23 and April 30. No voting will be held at the Bartholomew County Courthouse.

Early-in person voting will also be held 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 23 and 30 in the new Bartholomew County Council chambers in the Bartholomew County Governmental Office Building, 440 Third St., in downtown Columbus.

“The city was able to provide NexusPark in the JC Penney location for the spring elections, so we’re excited to be there,” Lentz said. “And we’ll be there the 28 days prior for the required early in-person voting.”

The Bartholomew County Election Board also has decided on 13 in-person vote centers for primary election day, Lentz said.

The voting locations for the primary include:

Flintwood Wesleyan Church, 5300 25th St.

St. Johns Masonic Lodge, 4131 Rocky Ford Rd.

NexusPark, 2252 25th St.

Donner Center, 739 22nd St.

River of Living Water Christian Church (formerly Berean Bible), 51 N Brooks St.

Bartholomew County Governmental Office Building, 440 Third St.

Terrace Lake Church, 4260 W. County Road 200S

Westside Community Church, 124 Tipton Lakes Blvd.

Elizabethtown Fire Station, 700 Washington St. in Elizabethtown

Hope Moravian Church, 202 Main St. in Hope

Clifford Fire Station, 7850 N Depot St. in Clifford

German Township Fire Station, 9428 Main St. in Taylorsville

Ogilville United Methodist Church, 11910 S. State Road 58

The primary election season comes as the community prepares to mark the two-year anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19. Hospitalizations are still hovering daily between 25 and 33 patients and the death toll continues to rise.

Bartholomew County election officials have been preparing for the upcoming primary, including the possibility that they will need to put in place many of the measures from 2020 to avoid spreading COVID-19 at polling places.

Lentz said last month that the county is “probably going to be following the same guidelines as 2020,” which would include requiring masks inside vote centers, spacing out voting machines, separating voters by at least 6 feet while they wait in line, wiping down and disinfecting any surface a voter touches, among other measures.

However, the Bartholomew County Election Board did not make any decisions this past week on COVID-19 measures at polling places, Lentz said.

“Hopefully, we’re on a better upward swing (with COVID-19),” Lentz said. “It’s hard to predict, but hopefully we’ll be able to carry out some of the same protocols that were in place in the 2020 elections. We just want everyone to be comfortable and be able to vote.”

Lentz said that many voters take advantage of early voting options, including voting absentee-by-mail, which she said is “still popular” in Bartholomew County and “not going to go away.” Local election officials will let voters decide if they prefer to vote in person or absentee-by-mail, Lentz said.

“Both are viable options,” she said.

Lentz said she is hopeful that turnout will be high for the primary. The deadline to register to vote is April 4.

NexusPark, formerly known as FairOaks Mall, proved to be a popular early voting location in the 2020 general election.

A record-shattering 20,843 voters turned out at the former Carson’s store for early in-person voting for the Nov. 3, 2020 presidential election.

“There are a lot of important races there, so we certainly hope for a good turnout,” Lentz said. “And we’ll do all that we can to facilitate the voters so that they can vote comfortably and safely.”