A good time to vote

Apr. 23—Early voting in Vigo County has so far ranged from "steady" to "light," according to election inspectors.

"Right now, the Annex has had the best turnout," said Jennifer Lewis, the Vigo County Clerk's Office's supervisor for absentee voters. "People of course usually stop in while they are paying their taxes. Hopefully [in] the next two weeks, more voters will come out."

Lewis also updates the website everyvotevigocounty.com nightly, which has reported that the three early voting centers now open — at the Vigo County Annex, the Haute City Center and the Meadows Shopping Center — had collected ballots from 1,815 voters through Monday.

In-person early voting began April 9.

The Annex has accepted 824 ballots, while the Meadows has seen 555 voters and Haute City Center has hosted 436.

April 13 saw a low of 29 total voters, while April 15 — Tax Day — saw the current high, 209 ballots cast.

Marilyn Dudley, the election inspector at the Annex, said on Tuesday, "It's just been steady. I don't know that I would call it heavy, but it's been a steady flow. Today is pretty typical of our other days."

By contrast, Carol Dunham, the Haute City Center's inspector, characterized the turnout so far as "light."

The primary is the calm before the storm of the November election, when a Presidential contest anchoring the ballot is expected to attract large crowds of voters.

"I think the general election will be busy," Dunham said.

As of 1 p.m., 14 people had voted Tuesday at the Haute City Center. Dunham was enthusiastic when a string of five people filtered in after a slow period.

"They're very dedicated voters," she said of the people who had cast ballots. "We're hoping we'll have more people. A lot of people will go to the Annex to pay property tax, like I did this morning."

Haute City Center's relative calm allowed one poll worker to get a little crocheting done.

Those who did cast ballots on Wednesday echoed the thoughts of Reggie McConnell, who said, "I think voting is very important as a civic duty. I always do vote."

McConnell voted at Haute City Center, but he had other business there, as well.

"I was just in the mall to buy a pair of running shoes," he said. "It just seemed convenient. Multi-tasking."

The Republican ticket has more candidates running in contested races, and was the one McConnell selected.

"I was familiar with most of the candidates and a lot of them have served the community for years," he said. "There weren't many surprises on the ballot, no."

John Beasley also voted on the Republican ticket at Haute City Center.

"The first time I voted, I was overseas — it was an absentee ballot, I was in the military," he said. "I've done it every time since."

Beasley approves of early voting — with a caveat.

"I don't believe in what I consider an excessive amount of early voting," he said. "I believe as busy as people are, yes, we need to change it from when I was a young person — just one day. I do not believe in this 30 day early voting. We need early voting, that's for sure, but there needs to be constraints."

Scotia and Charles Brown voted Tuesday in support of Democratic incumbent coroner Janie Myers.

"I want her to keep going — I think she's doing a good job," Charles said.

He added that the primary election should draw as many voters as the general election.

"A lot of people don't vote, that's the problem, Charles said. "I've been voting 50 years, it's important."

"If ever there's been a critical time for us to come out and make our voices heard, it's now," Scotia added. "So it's critical that people participate in the process."

David Leon Hills, who voted at the Annex, also believes this is an important time to cast one's ballot.

"I worry about who's gonna get into the general election," he said. "I spent eight and a half years in the service and this country is in deep [expletive] right now. We need a lot of changes — politicians is one of them. But it's still the best place to live in."

Hills said he always votes early.

"I've only run into one or two big lines, but they're usually kind of small and that's very disappointing," he said. "The people don't know about their right to vote. That's something that nobody can take away from you. If you don't vote, don't come to me crying."

At the Annex, snacks were laid out on the Vigo County Council's table for poll workers — cookies, oranges and what one ballot taker called "too many donuts."

Patrice Liebler cast her ballot at the Annex.

"It's great that we have the opportunity to vote early, so I take advantage of that," she said. "I think most people know how they're voting ahead of time, maybe from past history. I do it as a matter of convenience — we travel sometimes and I don't want to take the chance of being out of town on Election Day."

The Meadows Shopping Center's early voting site was closed on Tuesday. It will also be closed on April 29. Election Day for the spring primaries is May 7.

A week before Election Day, the West Vigo Schools Public Safety Building, IBEW No. 725, the Vigo County Waste Center and the Operating Engineers Local 841 will open their doors to early voters.

Joining those venues on Election Day will be the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union 157, Maryland Community Church, Pimento Firehouse, the Vigo County Public Library, the Booker T. Washington Community Center, New Goshen Firehouse, Sandcut Firehouse, Hope Community Center, Dede II in the Student Union on the Indiana State University campus, American Legion Post 104 and the National Guard Armory.

David Kronke can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at david.kronke@tribstar.com.