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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Hoosiers voting early, on track to beat record

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Anthony McCloud has an unromantic attitude toward voting. He stood near the back of a long line of early voters Oct. 16 at the City-County Building and said this is just what he’s supposed to do as someone who wants to help make a difference.

These have been hard times for him personally and for the community, said McCloud, a 20-year-old first-time voter.

“This vote is not only gonna affect myself personally, but it’s gonna affect everyone else,” he said.

There were 13,206 votes cast through the first nine days of early voting, according to the Marion County Clerk’s Office. That’s almost 10,000 more in the same period in 2008 and 5,000 more than in 2016.

Democrats and Republicans are encouraging Hoosiers to vote any way they can: in person on Election Day, early voting or absentee.

“Countless bold and brave Americans have labored, and even given their lives, so that each of us might fully and equally participate in the democratic process,” Republican Sen. Todd Young said in a statement. “… If America is to remain a government ‘of the people,’ our citizens will need to actively participate in its future by registering our preferences at the ballot box.”

Learn more about voting in the 2020 general election

Early voting in Marion County started Oct. 6 and continues through Nov. 2. The City-County Building is the only early voting location right now, but others will open Oct. 24.

Russell Hollis, deputy director of the Marion County Clerk’s Office, expects those early voting numbers to continue to increase once the five other early voting sites open.

“I think a lot of folks are excited about this election, and folks don’t want to wait for the last minute to make their voice heard,” Hollis said. “Similarly, our absentee-by-mail turnout is really high, as well.”

In 2016, 33% of the 362,372 voters in Marion County voted early — a record-breaking number. This year, Indianapolis voters are expected to break the record again, which doesn’t surprise City-County Councilman Zach Adamson.

“I’m surprised when we don’t break records,” Adamson said. “It seems like for the last decade and a half, every election has surpassed the previous as the most important in our lifetime. It’s getting more and more dire, and more people feel voting is worth standing in line for.”

Ariel Deloney, 29, wanted to vote early to get in before the rush, but she was in the middle of a line that snaked from the Delaware Street entrance to the City-County Building through Lugar Plaza. It was still a shorter line than she stood in on Election Day the last time she voted, Deloney said.

She was in line with her mother, 54-year-old Samantha Asberry, who said she is a regular voter.

“I think some people are just tired,” Asberry said. “They want some leadership.”

Adamson said having the opportunity to vote early is important for many people who don’t have the flexibility in their work schedule to wait in line on Election Day.

“Early voting gives you the ability to determine when it’s easiest and most convenient for you to vote,” Adamson said. “The system is set up to make it as difficult as possible for people who don’t have all the advantages that life has to offer to get out there and vote, and Indiana has some of the most restrictive voter laws in the country.”

In Indiana, voters must have a valid photo ID to cast a ballot. Opponents of this law say it makes it difficult for lower-income Hoosiers to vote, citing the price of the ID and frequently changed addresses due to unstable housing. Indiana is one of eight states to require a photo ID at the polls, alongside Kentucky and North Carolina.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick. Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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