Strengthening borders, supporting the military and protecting gun rights are some of the issues voters had on their minds when they lined up to vote early last week.
As of 2:45 p.m., Oct. 12, the first day of early voting, more than 70 Brown Countians had cast votes.
Poll worker Julie Cauble said that’s about double normal turnout on an early voting day.
The high volume is expected to continue.
As of Oct. 6, the week before the voter registration deadline, 198 new voters had registered in Brown County. That’s even more than before the primary, when 176 new voters registered — more than the last two primary election periods combined.
Some early voters said they wanted to avoid long lines at polls on Election Day.
“I actually just happened to be over here working and realized I could take advantage of early voting and not have to deal with the day of the 8th,” Kim Houseworth said.
She voted for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“I think he’ll repeal Obamacare, which I need desperately,” she said. “My insurance has doubled in premiums, doubled in deductibles, doubled in co-pays. It’s not very affordable anymore.”
The rest of her ballot had votes for Republicans and Democrats.
“I rarely vote one way or the other. It depends on the issue,” she said.
Richard Yarling, 95, showed up for early voting Oct. 12 to vote against Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and because he would be in Texas on Election Day.
“I can’t conceive Hillary Clinton being the president of the United States,” he said. “I would have voted for Genghis Khan if he happened to be running.”
“I had to vote Republican. I didn’t particularly want to. In fact, I’ve been a registered Democrat all of my life,” he added.
He voted for Trump, too. “I didn’t have much choice,” he said, adding that he does admire Trump’s vice presidential nominee, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
In the last 95 years, Yarling has voted in every presidential election. He began voting for Republican presidential candidates after former President Jimmy Carter “disappointed” him.
“From then on, the Democrats haven’t provided a candidate I really liked,” he said.
Having an electronic poll book and electronic voting machines has helped move voters along, Cauble said.
This is the first year Brown County voters will have to use touchscreen machines and won’t have the option of paper ballots, unless they vote absentee by mail. Even the poll book voters sign to get their ballot is electronic.
“All of the paperwork from before was just overwhelming. We’ve been able to go through 62 (voters) easily,” Cauble said.
There were times when all four voting machines were being used and people were waiting to cast their vote. At noon, the early voting site had already seen 50 voters, Brown County Clerk Brenda Woods said.
Only one or two voters had said they preferred the paper ballots, Woods said.
“Everybody has done really, really well. They’ve accepted it really well,” she said of the new voting machines.
“They’re pleased with themselves when they finish,” Cauble added.
During early voting, voters are instructed to sign a paper absentee ballot affidavit before signing the electronic poll book. Then, they are handed an electronic ballot card that is placed into their voting machine.
After they are finished voting, the card pops out and they return it to poll workers.
Early voter Richard Lahann said the voting machines were not difficult to operate. He came out to vote early “mostly for convenience,” he said.
“It was also nice not to have to wait 45 minutes just to get in,” he said.
Lahann voted “largely Democratic.” Social justice is an important issue to him.
“They are much more aligned with social justice,” he said of the party.
Lena Bohall and her husband voted early because they would be out of town on Election Day.
Supporting the military is important to the Bohalls. Her husband retired from the Indiana National Guard after 39 years. Her son and daughter-in-law are currently serving in the Indiana National Guard and her oldest son retired after 22 years of service.
“Military is my family. I had three brothers in Vietnam and one in Korea,” she said.
Bohall voted for Trump.
“He’s a businessman. I’m not saying I agree with all of his things; however, Hillary’s been in office too long. She doesn’t support the military, and we’re a very strong military family,” she said.
“I hope he makes it, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
A change to a voting law that was approved by the Indiana General Assembly this year means that straight-ticket votes will not count toward any at-large county races, like county council.
Voters must now select each candidate they wish to elect for at-large seats.
The reason for the change was to “clarify and strengthen voter intent in Indiana,” according to Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson.
“In at-large races there were times when voters cast straight-ticket ballots and then marked additional at-large candidates. Sometimes, these voters had over voted, which the law has never allowed,” she said.
This new law does not affect how a straight-party ticket functions in other ballot races, like school board or public questions.
Straight-party voting didn’t cast a vote in those races previously, and it doesn’t now, either.
Previously, if a voter cast a straight-party ticket and then decided to vote in a town council race for someone of a different political party, the straight-party votes would not count, a news release from Lawson’s office said. The new law changes that and allows straight-party voters to split part of their ticket.
Voters will be notified of the change in the law at the polls. The new law also allows the county election board to provide voting system instructions either on the ballot or in the voting booth.
Voters planning to choose a write-in candidate in any race need to come prepared to the polls.
Brown County Clerk Brenda Woods said lists of write-in candidates who have filed paperwork to make their candidacy official will not be provided.
In order for a write-in vote to be tabulated, the candidate must have followed the steps to become an official write-in candidate, and the voter must spell the candidate’s name correctly, she said.
So, you can vote for Batman for president if you’d like, but if Batman didn’t register as a write in — which he didn’t, according to the Indiana Secretary of State’s list — he won’t get a vote.
For Brown County voters, write-ins are options in the races for president of the United States, vice president of the United States, U.S. senator, governor and lieutenant governor, according to the state’s list.
The general election candidate list for state and federal offices, including write-in options, can be found on the Indiana Secretary of State Election Division’s website or on bcdemocrat.com.
Registered Brown County voters from any precinct can vote early in person at the County Office Building in the first-floor small conference room. Early voting is offered:
• Wednesday, Oct. 12 to Friday, Nov. 4 on weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Saturdays, Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Monday, Nov. 7, 8 a.m. to noon
If you wish to vote absentee by mail, you must request a ballot from the county clerk’s office by Monday, Oct. 31.