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In-Person Absentee Voting Begins at Judicial Center, 4-H Fairgrounds

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
In-person voting began Tuesday at the Hamilton County Government & Judicial Center and the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville.

Passersby at the Hamilton County Government & Judicial Center and the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville have likely noticed political signs dotting the lawn and entrances.

Yes, in-person early voting is upon us.

Tuesday was the first day of in-person absentee voting in Indiana.

It’s now been four weeks since the Hamilton County Election Office mailed out the first batch of primary election absentee ballots for the May 3 Primary.

Since then, the Election Office has mailed out 1,295 absentee ballots to registered Hamilton County voters who requested delivery of an absentee ballot by mail, Election Administrator Beth Sheller said Wednesday. Of those mailed-out ballots, 282 completed ballots have been returned to the Election Office.

“It is gradually picking up. We mailed out 209 (ballots) on Monday and 78 yesterday (Tuesday),” Sheller said. For the time period, since April 15, the Election Office has averaged 78 ballots a day.

The Election Office will continue to mail absentee ballots through the April 21 deadline for requests. May 2 is the deadline for a voter to vote an absentee ballot in person.

In the 2018 May Primary, the Election Office sent out 1,504 ballots and had 1,284 completed returned.

(It’s the first time for a race since new district lines have been drawn due to congressional redistricting.)  

Monday was voter registration deadline. In Hamilton County, there are 263,871 registered voters, Sheller said.

The current election information on the Hamilton County Election website has 17 pages of candidates running for office with some heated and highly contested races, including County Prosecutor (Greg Garrison and incumbent Lee Buckingham), County Council District 3 (Mark Hall and incumbent Steve Schwartz) and Noblesville Township Board (nine candidates vying for three seats: incumbents Peggy R. Pfister and Joe Arrowood, and Terry Busby, David Cox, Charlie McMillan Jr., Adrienne Rogers, Mary Sue Rowland and Perry Williams, all Republicans, and Paula Jo Gilliam, Democrat).

Sheller’s expectations for voter turnout? “By the trend right now, this will be a low-turnout election even with the contested races we have in our county,” she said. “We have prepared our satellite voting sites for a larger turnout just in case we are wrong. I hope we are wrong and do better than the 2018 Primary turnout of a little less than 19 percent.”

Sheller sends out public announcements on social media letting voters know they can vote early and deadlines for registering to vote. “We sent out about 125,000 postcards to voters who had name changes in their precincts, boundary changes, or poll site changes,” she said. “My hope is that those (postcards) reminded voters to get to the polls. I have heard from voters that they plan to vote on Election Day this year instead of by mail or early, unlike 2020 (during the Covid-19 pandemic).

Voters in Indiana will have the opportunity in the primary election to vote for these offices: U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives (all 9 seats), Indiana State Senate (25 of the 50 seats), Indiana House of Representatives (all 100 seats), judges of the circuit and superior courts in several counties,  clerks of the circuit court, County Auditor, County Recorder, County Treasurer, County Coroner, County Surveyor, County Assessor, County Commissioner, County Sheriff, Prosecuting Attorney, and County Council Member in several counties • Town Council members, town clerk-treasurers, and town judges in towns which have chosen to stagger terms, or to elect all town officials during 2022. Also, Democratic Party and Republican Party state convention delegates, Democratic Party precinct committeemen.

School board candidates will run on the General Election Ballot on Nov. 8.

Typically, in a non-Presidential election year, low voter turnout is expected. But this election year, I expect voters to come to the polls or vote absentee so they can make a difference in their local elections.

In-person absentee early voting is open weekdays during business hours. Early voting will also be offered Saturdays, April 23 and 30, with more locations to open April 20.

“Things went well for early voting start-up yesterday, however, with both locations at the Judicial Center and at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds, we only had 54 voters,” Sheller said. “The first couple of weeks are usually slower, but hopefully voting will pick up when all of the satellites open on April 20.”

Election Day hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 3.

– Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.