Voter registrations surge ahead of April 4 deadline

The Brown County clerk’s office processed more new voter registrations before the 2016 primary than during the same period before the last two elections combined.

As of March 31, 147 new voters had joined Brown County’s rolls. The deadline to register to vote in the 2016 primary election is April 4.

Before the last presidential election in 2012, 76 new voter registrations were received from January through March.

In 2014, 53 new voters registered during the same period.

Brown County Clerk Brenda Woods said it’s common to receive a rush of voter registrations before an election, especially during a presidential year and especially from young voters who are just becoming old enough to cast a ballot.

Of the 147 new voters, 66 of them — 45 percent — will be 17 or 18 by the May 3 primary.

Another 24 of the new registrants were between the ages of 24 and 44 — the likely range to have children in school.

Brown County’s primary ballot will include a question about an 8-cent-per-$100 property tax increase to support Brown County Schools.

Brown County Schools supporters have been staging voter registration drives at sports games.

In January, Superintendent David Shaffer said that of Brown County parents of school-aged children, only 40 percent were registered to vote.

“It’s going to affect property taxes and how the schools work. There’s a lot of reasons to vote on it,” Woods said.

A registration surge was seen in many areas across the state.

About a week before the registration deadline, within a two-day span, 34,000 Indiana residents registered, likely due to a prompt from Facebook, the ability to register from your smartphone and the unique presidential race, election officials said.

Matthew Kochevar, co-legal counsel for the Indiana Election Division, attributed it to ease of accessibility from smartphones and tablets. People aren’t just being asked to register at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles anymore. Residents can go online and quickly apply for their registration in just a few minutes, Kochevar said.

The presidential race likely has something to do with it, too, he said. As people watch the race in other states, they want to have a say in who the candidate will be.

“We’re seeing more interest in the election because of the interest in the candidates,” Kochevar said. “We have a very interesting presidential primary (debate) coming to Indy at the beginning of May.”

Voters have until 11:59 p.m. April 4 to register. It can be done online at

If you missed the primary deadline, you’ll have another window in which to register to vote before the general election in November. Registration will reopen two weeks after the primary and close Oct. 11.

Daily Journal (Johnson County) reporter Corey Elliot contributed to this story.

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Sara Clifford has been raising a family in Brown County since 2005 and leading the Brown County Democrat since late 2009. In addition to editor, she is the beat reporter for town government and writes columns, features and general news stories.