Referendums drawing Vigo voters to polls

Tribune-Star/Lisa TriggThe signs on the doors of Seelyville Town Hall direct voters to two different locations in the building to cast ballots in either the local town election, or the Terre Haute city elections and the referendum questions.

"I think the referendum is really bringing them out," poll inspector Charlee Kimm said this morning at the Seelyville vote center, where voter turnout had been steady since 6 a.m.

By 9 a.m., 108 ballots had been cast  to add to the 425 early ballots previously cast in the races for Terre Haute mayor and city council members, and in the separate referendums on a casino and school funding.

It was unknown how many voters so far had been eligible to cast ballots only for the referendums due to their residency outside city limits, and how many had also voted in the city election. The different ballots are assigned by the electronic system that checks in voters no matter which vote center they go to around the county.

At Seelyville, where a town election is also in progress, town residents could also enter the town hall to a separate area where paper ballots were being cast for town clerk-treasurer and town council. The town election is run independently of the county election. As of 9 a.m. today, 13 town ballots had been cast, to be added to the 90 ballots cast during the previous five days of early voting.

At Memorial United Methodist Church on the city's east side, about 20 voters were waiting at 6 a.m. when the vote center opened.

"It's been steady all morning," said inspector Marilyn Dudley of the voter turnout. "Everything has gone very smoothly."

City resident Charlie Jones cast his ballot just after 9 a.m. at the vote center, and said he was interest in the city mayor race.

"It's time for new perspective in the mayor position," Jones said.

As a former resident of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Jones said he had perspective on how a casino affects a community.

Jones said he is not a supporter of the casino referendum question because he saw how the four casinos that were approved by a Vicksburg referendum did not have the positive results that were promoted for the community.

"All of the money goes to education as intended," Jones said, "but the other money that had been allocated to education was redirected, so it was a net-zero gain for the schools."

Jones said he also saw how the casinos hired employees away from the community's already established businesses, such as restaurants, so the new jobs created did less to resolve unemployment, but created a worker deficit for the lower paying jobs.

"It was a negative impact of pulling people away for better salaries," Jones said. 

Among candidates campaigning outside of vote centers, city council candidate Earl Elliott said he believes the pleasant weather this morning was an encouragement to voters.

"There's no excuse not to get out to vote," Elliott said.

At the Lawton Byrum VFW Post 972 at 1111 Veteran Square, almost 100 ballots had been cast in the first three hours of voting.

Inspector Fred Davis said he believes the referendums brought out more voters.

"The good thing is we have enough voting centers that people can go anywhere to vote," Davis said.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With more than 30 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.

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