2016-03-15 / Front Page

Voters Can Begin Casting Ballots On April 5th For May 3 Primary Election

by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer

New specially designed Apple iPad Poll Pads will be utilized to replace paper sign-in books at Owen County’s eight vote center locations. (Staff Photo) New specially designed Apple iPad Poll Pads will be utilized to replace paper sign-in books at Owen County’s eight vote center locations. (Staff Photo) For just the second time in the past 50 years, Indiana’s primary election may actually play a key role in the nomination process for the country’s two major political parties.

Election officials are hopeful Indiana’s May 3rd primary election will garner a larger voter turnout than the 23 percent or 3,941 of the 14,731 registered voters who cast a ballot during the 2014 primary. Owen County’s absentee balloting was at an all-time high with 28 percent, or 938 of those ballots cast coming early.

Owen County’s largest primary turnout in recent memory occurred in 2008.

Local voters can still register to cast a ballot, with multiple options for voter registration. Local residents can simply visit the Owen County Clerk’s Office Election Division, located on the first floor of the county courthouse in Spencer. Multiple options are also available online through the Indiana Election Division’s website (www.in.gov/sos/elections) or www.rockthevote.com. The final day to register is by the close of business at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, April 4. While the voting age remains 18, qualified 17 year olds who will turn 18 before the Tuesday, November 8 General Election are eligible to vote on a special ballot in a primary election. It will not include a public question voted on at the same time as the primary.

While Hoosiers will head to the polls on Tuesday, May 3rd, Owen County residents can begin voting early at the county courthouse on Tuesday, April 5. Satellite voting will also be available for absentee balloting on Saturday, April 9 at the Cunot Community Center, located on State Road 42. Voting will take place from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for any registered voter in the county. A second Saturday will find the county’s election division conducting early voting at the Freedom Community Center on Saturday, April 16, also from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

The national spotlight is currently on the delegate count for candidates in their respective parties, with Hillary Clinton totaling 1,220 of the 2,838 delegates needed for the Democratic nomination. Senator Bernie Sanders has 571 delegates pledged.

In the Republican Party race, frontrunner Donald Trump has secured 446 delegates to his closest opponent, Senator Ted Cruz’s 347 delegates. Senator Marco Rubio still has 151 delegates and Ohio Governor John Kasich has 54 of the 1,237 needed to secure the GOP nomination.

The Hoosier State has 57 total Republican Delegates and 79 Democratic Party Delegates up for grabs.

Voting process changes

Owen County voters will experience a couple of drastic changes in the voting process in 2016, as the county’s 18 precincts have been reduced to eight vote centers. The consolidation allows for any Owen County registered voter to cast a ballot at any of the eight locations, rather than be designated to a single location on Election Day.

The eight locations include:

•Cunot Community and Senior Center

•Millgrove United Methodist Church

•Lighthouse Fellowship Church

•Whitehall Pentecostal Church

•Freedom Community Center

•Jefferson Baptist Church

•Garrard Chapel Church

•In God’s Arms (IGA) building.

The second change in the process pertains to how voters will go about signing in at the polls. Voters have traditionally shown their photo ID’s and signed next to their name on a list of registered voters. The act of signing in will now be done electronically on an Apple iPad designed especially for election purposes.

The county opted to purchase 12 of the tablet computers to replace the paper sign-in books at a total cost of $27,265. While voting takes place, the computers constantly and automatically update.

Each computer costs $1,400 and includes a wireless Internet hotspot device, printer and swivel stand.

The federally-certified Apple based setup comes from Knowink and will be utilized in 24 of the state’s 92 counties during the upcoming primary election. The system is described as having a direct and secure link to the Indiana Election Division voter data for Owen County, which is downloaded directly to each device.

The Owen County Clerk’s Office Election Division can be reached by calling 812-829-5015.

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