Absentee voting is up and running, popular

That time again: Early voting in the 2018 primary has already begun at the Vigo County Annex. Several more locations will start offering early voting on May 1.Tribune-Star/Austen Leake

Absentee, in-person voting appears to be running strong in Vigo County.

In-person absentee voting for the May Primary Election started April 10. As of Thursday, just eight days into voting, in-person votes were more than five times higher than for the 2014 mid-term election and mail-in absentee ballots are up as well, according to the county clerk's office.

There were 420 in-person ballots cast and 516 mail-in ballots. That compares to just 77 in-person ballots in the first eight days of voting for the 2014 Primary Election, and 314 mail-in ballots, according to the county clerk's office.

"I think people are more excited to vote this time. There is more competition," said LeAnna Moore, chief deputy clerk for Vigo County. "Mainly, the Democrat party has a lot of contested races, so I think that plays a part."

In an unusual event, 71 percent of precinct committee member spots — 62 of 87 — have contested races in the May 8 primary election. Another 24 precincts have one candidate; only one precinct has no candidate.

"I think it is a combination of things," Moore added, pointing to an effort to inform voters of voting locations.

"We did a big a big PR [public relations] thing, getting the word out about early voting and about vote centers. We passed out a bunch of fliers, which shows that the annex is open for so many days. We put information [about voting sites] on pizza boxes. We did about 4,000 pizza boxes with fliers and we will do a radio segment coming up" about vote centers, Moore said.

Under state law, a county is required to have at least one vote site up 28 days prior to the election for in-person absentee voting.

This year marks the first time that the county courthouse has not been utilized for that vote site. Instead, the Vigo County Annex, at First and Oak Streets, houses this early voting. That site will remain open until noon on May 7, the day before the May 8 Primary Election.

Additionally, voters will next have two vote sites on April 28, which is a Saturday. Voters can go to the Vigo County Annex and the IBEW Local No. 725 union hall at 5675 Hulman Drive on Terre Haute's east side. Those sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Starting on May 1 and extending through May 5, the county will have six early vote center sites up from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Those sites are the IBEW, Booker T. Washington Community Center, Operating Engineers Local 841, Northside Bingo Hall near Roselawn Memorial, West Vigo Community Center and Seelvyille Town Hall.

The six vote centers will also be open for the May 8 Primary election, along with vote centers at Indiana State University, Memorial United Methodist Church, New Life Fellowship Church, New Goshen Firehouse, Wabash Valley Fairgrounds, Maryland Community Church, VFW Post No. 972, Sandcut Firehouse, American Legion Post 104, Pimento Firehouse, National Guard Armory, Vigo County Public Library, Vigo County Solid Waste Management and Prairie Creek Firehouse.

Vigo County has 72,190 registered voters. The county has 16 pending voter registrations and 14 incomplete applications, said Veda Long, co-director of the Vigo County voter registration department. The final voter registration must be set 10 days before the election — both for the primary and general elections, Long said.

Registered voters can also request a mail-in ballot. The voter must first complete an absentee ballot application and return it to the county clerk's office. Applications from most voters (military and oversees voters applications vary) must be received, whether submitted by mail or fax, at least eight days before election day. The county clerk's office can be reached at 812-462-3235.

Confined voters and those caring for confined voters can request to have a confined voter board, or traveling board, bring an absentee ballot to their location. The bipartisan board, comprised of a Democrat and Republican, can also fill out a ballot at the request of the voter.

Elsewhere in the Valley

Some other Wabash Valley counties are also seeking increased absentee voting so far this month.

"We are doing good," said Vermillion County Clerk Amy Griffin.

Vermillion County, as of the eighth day of voting on Thursday, had 106 in-person absentee ballots cast and has 12 mail-in ballots. That compares to just 22 at the same time in 2014. "We have signs all over the courthouse and outside and are sharing vote early on Facebook," Griffin said.

"We have interest in the race as our judge is up for election, with a contested race. They have a lot of people pushing for them to vote," Griffin said. Also, the county has contested races for county commissioner and county council, Griffin said. Vermillion County will not use vote centers, but will vote in precincts. The county has 9,637 registered voters.

Clay County has had 212 in-person ballots cast in eight days of voting, with 28 mail-in ballots, said Jason Jacobs, first deputy for the Clay County election office. That compares to 202 in-person ballots cast in 2014, Jacobs said. Clay County has 18,383 registered voters.

Parke County had 102 in-person ballots in eight days voting, compared to 97 in 2014, said Dallas Uplinger, absentee voter clerk. Parke County has 10,213 registered voters, Uplinger said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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