Early voting up in Marion County, but even more so in Hamilton County

Primary election voters in Marion and Hamilton counties turned out for early voting in numbers higher than during the last municipal contest in 2015.

In Hamilton County—where Republican primary races in Noblesville, Carmel and Fishers have been making news—early voting increased by a whopping 279% compared with four years ago.

In Marion County, early voting was up 16% over 2015, when—like this year—there were no significant battles in the Republican and Democratic primaries for mayor. The additional ballots are thought to be the result of an increase in the number of early voting sites.

Polls are open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In Indianapolis, incumbent Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett has his party’s endorsement, but faces a Democratic challenger—Denise Paul Hatch, a retired Center Township resident.

On the Republican side, state Sen. Jim Merritt also has secured his party’s endorsement, but two other GOP candidates are running—Christopher Moore, a dump truck driver, and Felipe Rios, a minister.

The increase in early voting in Marion County is largely attributable to a 35% jump of in the number of votes cast in person (versus through a mail-in ballot or by traveling board). The Marion County Election Board reports that 2,734 residents voted at one of three locations: the City-County Building, Washington Township Government Center and the Perry Township Government Center.

This was the first year in a decade that Marion County voters could choose from multiple locations to cast a ballot.

“Satellite voting locations may be a key reason early voting is higher than in 2015,” said Russell Hollis, deputy director of the Marion County Clerk’s Office.

Voters could cast in-person early ballots from April 9 to noon Monday at the City-County Building. From April 27 to May 5, voters also had access to the other two satellite voting sites.

The latter is the result of a consent decree signed in 2018 by a federal judge.

The decision came in a case brought by government watchdog group Common Cause Indiana and the NAACP, which alleged the Marion County Election Board effectively disenfranchised local voters. Under the order, the Marion County Election Board was to establish at least five satellite offices for general and municipal elections, starting with last year’s general election. There are to be at least two satellite offices in primary elections.

After more satellite offices opened in 2018 for early voting, a record number of ballots were cast, outpacing the 2016 presidential election. 

In Hamilton County, through noon Monday, 7,634 residents had cast ballots in person or through absentee means. There are 226,000 registered voters in Hamilton County this year, a 20% increase over 2015.

More interesting primary races are likely part of the reason.

In Noblesville, four Republicans are vying to replace outgoing four-term Mayor John Ditslear. The candidates are City Councilor Chris Jensen, former school board member and lawyer Julia Kozicki, Hamilton County Media Group owner Mike Corbett and Noblesville urban forester Vince Baker.

In Carmel, Hamilton County Councilor Fred Glynn is challenging Mayor Jim Brainard. The race has attracted attention as Glynn has criticized Brainard’s spending, while another elected official has accused Brainard of harassing her. Brainard argues the city’s investments have helped it grow and thrive, and he has denied the harassment claims.

In Fishers, former Save the Train spokesman Logan Day is running against Mayor Scott Fadness. Day argues the city is changing too fast, while Fadness describes the changes as progress.

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