Voter turnout higher than many expected

HANCOCK COUNTY — With his hands in stuffed inside his pockets, John Rogers stuck his head around the people standing in line in front of him. Rogers, 69, New Palestine was trying to decipher how long it was going to take to get to the front of the line to cast his vote at Cross of Grace Church in New Palestine.

The line was deep — nearly 100 people stood waiting — wrapping around several halls inside the church. It forced some primary voters to wait as long as an hour to cast their ballots.

Nearly 22,000 registered voters — or about 40 percent — cast ballots in the primary election in Hancock County. Though officials expected voter turnout to be record breaking, it fell short of 2008’s election, when the Democratic presidential race was hotly contested.

At that time, about 20,200 registered voters — or 42 percent — cast ballots. Compared with 2012, Tuesday’s election saw significantly more voters. About 27 percent of registered voters, or 13,400, cast ballots then.

For Rogers, Tuesday’s election was incredible.

“I’ve never seen anything like this since I’ve been out here, and I’ve been out here since 1983,” Rogers said.

Election officials at the site, one of 12 voting centers in the county, said people were waiting in line to vote long before the polls were even open.

“It’s been super busy,” election official Paul Galley said. “But, everybody is being calm and polite.”

Galley and the other election assistants worked all day trying to get voters in and out as quickly as possible.

The high voter turnout wasn’t a surprise to Kent Fisk, who is running for the Republican nomination for Hancock County Council. Large crowds were to be expected, he said.

“It’s probably the biggest presidential race I’ve ever seen since back when Carter was running,” Fisk said.

Before early afternoon, more than 900 voters had cast ballots at Cross of Grace Church, said Terry Armstrong, who was stumping for her son, Brad Armstrong, a county commissioner candidate.

The voting lines were not quite as long at the Washington Village Apartments on the west end of Greenfield, but there was at least a 10 to 20 minute wait. The line grew longer later in the day, polling officials said.

“It’s been a great turnout so far,” election official John Krueger said. “I haven’t stopped since I got here a little before 5:30 (a.m.).”

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or kdeer@greenfieldreporter.com.