GREENFIELD — The paperwork in the Hancock County Election Office is piling up this week as residents rush to submit voter registrations before the Monday deadline.
On any given day this week, office staff could be found sorting through the hundreds of forms that have been submitted online and in person by residents looking to have a say in this year’s presidential primary election.
When staff members arrive each morning, they’re greeted by hundreds of new applications submitted overnight; between close of business Monday and opening Tuesday, for example, 428 registrations were awaiting staffers’ attention.
Hoosiers wishing to cast a ballot May 3 must submit their registration forms no later than 5 p.m. Monday, and as the deadline looms, Hancock County voter registrations are booming, election officials say.
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So far this week, more than 500 Hancock County voters registered to vote or updated their information in preparation for the primary election. And every day, a handful of residents are calling to ask about early voting or the registration deadline, said Janice Jones, election administrator.
And the office staff said it doesn’t expect the hustle to wane during the next few days as the registration period closes and early voting begins Tuesday.
As of early this week, about 53,800 Hancock County residents were registered to vote — about 7 percent more than were registered for the last presidential primary in 2012.
In 2008, when the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic Party nod still was undecided at the time of Indiana’s primary, there were about 47,800 residents registered to vote.
Hancock County’s population has grown by about 5,000 people since 2008, but local party leaders say the lively presidential race is more likely responsible for increased voter interest this year.
As national candidates duel for delegates in order to win their party’s nomination, local interest in this year’s primary is growing, said Hancock County GOP chair Janice Silvey. That interest will be beneficial to Republican candidates running for local office, she said.
On May 3, Hoosier voters will head to the polls to choose which local, state and national candidates for office will win their party’s nomination for the General Election in November. In Hancock County, residents can start voting Tuesday at the Hancock County Courthouse. Early voting at four other locations begins April 23.
So far, fewer than 150 absentee ballots have been requested, Jones said, but the office is fielding several phone calls a day about early voting.
Typically, because Indiana’s primary is so late compared with other states, the election for the presidential race is just a formality. Usually, there’s a clear frontrunner for both parties by the time Hoosier voters cast ballots in early May.
But this year, Indiana could help decide which presidential candidates appear on November’s ballot as the national Republican Party is still divided over its nominee, said Hancock County Democratic Party leader Randy Johnson.
He also pointed to Indiana’s gubernatorial race as one reason voters seem to be rushing to submit registrations.
Though Gov. Mike Pence and his Democratic challenger John Gregg are running unopposed this spring, the fall race is expected to be exciting, he said.
Party leaders hope the energy developing now lasts through the fall.
“I’m thrilled to see the numbers going up,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t matter which party, people should be voting.”
To register to vote in the May 3 primary, you must:
- Be at least 18 on or before Nov. 8
- Have lived at your current address for at least 30 days
- Be a United States citizen
- Not currently be imprisoned after a crime conviction