‘Biggest Turnout,’ New Paper Trail Receipt, 1 Democrat In, 2 Democrats Out in Elections

By: Betsy Reason

The Times photo by Betsy Reason
Hamilton County used a Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) (black box on the right) for the first time at the Election Day polling sites. “It gives voters confidence when they can see their vote typed on the paper,” said Beth Sheller, Elections Administrator.

Hamilton County Election Office results have paper trails for the first time. Voter turnout is the highest for a Municipal Election. And Tuesday’s Election Day polls were busiest in Carmel and Fishers.

In Carmel, Republican candidate Sue Finkum celebrated a victory with 18,042 votes, or 56.60 percent; while Democratic candidate Miles Nelson received 13,463 votes, or 42.24 percent.

In Fishers, two Democratic incumbents lost their seats on Fishers City Council while another Democrat won a seat from a Republican incumbent, leaving himself to be the only Democrat on Council. Incumbent Democrat Crystal Neumann lost her seat with 1,216 votes, just 42 votes less than Republican John P. Delucia, who won with 1,258 votes for the Fishers City Council NC District seat; and Democrat Jocelyn Vare lost her seat, one of three on Fishers City Council At Large. Democrat Bill Stuart had 1,967 votes, winning over incumbent Republican David Giffel at 1,907 votes, just 60 votes apart, for the Fishers City Council SW District seat. Stuart was not only the lone new Council member for Fishers but is also the only winning Democrat in the General Election in Hamilton County.

In Westfield, a Westfield City Councilor from District 1, Scott Willis, was elected new Westfield mayor in an unopposed race, and all City Council members are new to their seats.

Westfield City Council District 4 had the closest race, with Republican Patrick T. Tamm at 1,186 votes and Democrat Alexis Lowry at 1,165 votes, just 23 votes apart.

In the Noblesville City Council At Large race, Democrat Paula Jo Gilliam was 686 votes behind Republican incumbent Pete Schwartz, who will stay in office along with incumbent Republican Darren Peterson, and newly elected Republican Evan Elliott.

Of Hamilton County’s 252,926 registered voters, 68,071 voted in this election, including 6,253 paper absentee voting, 20,119 early voting walk-ins and 41,699 voters cast their votes for 208 precincts at 104 polling locations on Election Day.

Tuesday’s Municipal Election saw a 27 percent voter turnout.

“This will definitely be the biggest turnout for a Municipal (Election),” Beth Sheller, Hamilton County Elections Administrator, said on Tuesday afternoon. “It won’t compare to a presidential election (which was 75.4 percent voter turnout in Hamilton County for the 2020 General Election), but better than normal.”

In the 2022 election, voter turnout was only 11.72 percent.

Straight party votes recorded were 16,202 for the Republican party and 7,617 for the Democratic party in 2023.

Sheller said the county used a Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) for the first time at the Election Day polling sites. “Things have gone well with them,” she said. “It gives voters confidence when they can see their vote typed on the paper. And we also have a way to audit our walk-in votes.”

She said, “The paper trail comes up in the screen almost like a tape at the cash register does. Then the voter makes sure it is what they voted before they cast the red button. If it’s not what they wanted to vote, then they can go back and change it; it voids that one (original receipt), and they can revise what they voted.”

-Betsy Reason writes about people, places and things in Hamilton County. Contact The Times Editor Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.