Montgomery County voters seem to like voting early this election cycle.
The number of early voters in the county has surpassed numbers from four years ago, and there are four more early voting days still available.
“As of Wednesday morning, we have had 1,720 voters take advantage of early voting,” Voter Registrar Karyn Douglas said. “In 2012, the total number of early voters totaled 926.”
The most recent total includes 174 voters who either cast their ballots at the courthouse or Rock Point Church on Tuesday.
Last Saturday was the first time satellite voting was offered in two of the county’s smaller towns. Ladoga had 88 voters cast ballots, while Waveland garnered 99 early voters.
The large number of early voters pleases the Voter Registration staff since this is the first year the county is utilizing vote centers instead of traditional polling places, and is expanding early voting opportunities.
“We are excited,” Douglas said. “We did find we needed to take more machines to the satellite sites so we will this Saturday at Darlington and Waynetown.”
Douglas said five of the new touchscreen voting machines were used in Ladoga and Waveland. She said this Saturday there will be 10 voting machines available in Darlington and Waynetown.
“We were happy that people were lined up at both small towns before we opened the doors,” Douglas said. “We got through the voters with no problems and there were no lines when the polls closed.”
The large number of early voters represents 6.5 percent of the county’s registered voters. In the 2012 Presidential primary election, county voter turnout was 34.1 percent. Douglas said with this year’s high-profile Presidential primary and a contested local Republican primary, voter turnout should exceed previous totals.
Douglas said the turnout also can be attributed to the new vote center process.
“I think people are appreciating the fact they can vote at different locations and times rather than one specific place on one specific date,” Douglas said.
Four years ago there was a popular movement to stop Hillary Clinton from winning Indiana delegates which led to a shortage of Republican ballots at county precincts. Republicans were asking for Democrat primary ballots since Indiana is an open primary. This year the opposite holds true. With the Democrat presidential selection nearly locked up by Clinton, there is speculation that several county Democrats will be asking to vote Republican in order to have a say in county politics. With the new voting machines, there is no fear of running out of paper ballots since they are no longer used.
“With the new machines there is no guesswork about how many paper ballots we will need,” Douglas said. “We believe that is a good thing about this primary election.”
Early voting continues this week. The last day to cast an early vote will be from 8 a.m. to noon Monday at the courthouse.