Voter registration, early ballot numbers are up

Voter registration and the first few days of early voting both have showed improvement in Marion and Hamilton counties for the latest midterm election.

In Marion County, a total of 1,309 voters cast a ballot during the first three days of early voting last week, according to Marion County Clerk's Office Deputy Director Russell Hollis. That’s nearly triple the amount of early voting during the same time period in 2014 for the last midterm election.

It's down about 53 percent from 2016, but turnout is usually higher during presidential elections.

The number of registered voters is now higher for November's general election than it was during May's primary. Marion County had close to 630,000 registered voters during the primary, and preliminary numbers show more than 653,000 registered voters for the general.

In Hamilton County, early voting has skyrocketed in comparison with 2014. During the first two days of early voting, 1,153 ballots were cast this year, while during the same time period in 2014, only 103 people voted early, according to elections administrator Kathy Richardson.

But it's down about 30 percent from 2016.

“I think Kathy Richardson was probably surprised when she started adding up those ballots,” Ed Feigenbaum, publisher of Indiana Legislative Insight, said. “That should be concerning to Republicans.”

The number of new registered voters also increased compared to 2014 in Hamilton County. That year, close to 3,700 new voter registrations were filed between the primary and the general election. This year, more than 6,700 new voter registrations were filed.

Early voting in Marion County is currently only available at the City-County Building, even though earlier this year a federal judge ordered the county to offer six satellite locations this fall. The other early voting locations are not open until Oct. 26.

In Hamilton County, early voting is also currently only available at one location—the Judicial Center in Noblesville. But three satellite locations will be available starting Oct. 24.

Indiana’s election results are being watched nationwide, as the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is among the most competitive in the country. Republicans see it as an opportunity to gain a seat, because President Donald Trump won the state by nearly 20 points in 2016.

Donnelly won the seat in 2012, and he is in an intense re-election campaign against Republican Mike Braun. The race has attracted millions of dollars from outside groups hoping to influence Hoosier voters.

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