Absentee voting begins Friday


Voting for the Nov. 8 election will begin Friday morning when the first absentee ballots are mailed to Jackson County voters.

Besides picking a president, a U.S. senator, an Indiana Ninth District representative, a governor and lieutenant governor and state representatives and senators, voters in Jackson County will be picking commissioners for the east and central parts of the county, three at-large council seats and coroner.

It’s the presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, however, that has been and will continue to drive interest in the general election.

As of Tuesday morning, the Jackson County Clerk’s Office had received 100 requests for absentee ballots, and there are another 70 applications for absentee ballots that have been sent to registered voters but not yet returned so a ballot can be mailed to them, Clerk Amanda Lowery said.

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“That’s pretty high but expected because of the presidential race,” she said.

Three Republicans — Jackson Superior Court II Judge Bruce MacTavish, Surveyor Dan Blann and Auditor Kathy Hohenstreiter — are running unopposed as is newcomer Roger Hurt, a Republican running for treasurer.

The at-large county council races will feature Democrats Andy Fountain of Brownstown, Kathy Schafstall of Seymour and Steve Ritter of Norman against Republican candidates Ann Cain of Seymour, Dave Hall of Norman and John Nolting of Brownstown. Voters will pick three.

A change in state law involving straight party voting will be in effect for the election, and it’s a big change, Lowery said.

Hoosiers may still be able to cast a straight ticket Nov. 8, but that vote will not count for any individual candidate for at-large county council races, the school board races and public questions on the ballot. The same will hold true for any at-large town council race in future elections.

Voters now will have to select each candidate they wish to vote for in at-large council races.

“If you want your vote to be heard for your county council members, your school board members, your judicial retentions and public questions, you’re going to have to make a very specific mark on your ballots in those areas,” Lowery said.

Electronic voting machines give voters a chance to review their ballot and show them where they might have failed to cast a vote, she said.

There is no such review for those casting paper ballots, Lowery said, but there will be information about the change at each polling site and in each voting booth.

Secretary of State Connie Lawson said the General Assembly changed the law to clarify and strengthen voter intent earlier this year.

In the past, people would cast straight ticket ballots and then mark additional at-large candidates, Lawson said.

“Sometimes, the voters had over-voted, which the law has never allowed,” she said.

Democrat Kurt Fenneberg, a political newcomer from Seymour, will face Republican Drew Markel of Seymour for the District 1 commissioner seat presently held by Republican Jerry Hounshel, who did not seek his party’s nomination in the primary.

The District 2 commissioner race features two newcomers, Republican Bob Gillaspy and Democrat Bradley D. Smith, both of Seymour, and the race for coroner will feature Republican Mike Bobb and Democrat Andy Rumph, both of Seymour.

Voters also will pick school board members at Crothersville, Medora and Seymour, although there are no contested races.

Early voting in person will begin at 8 a.m. Oct 12 at the Jackson County Courthouse, 111 S. Main St., Brownstown.

Lowery and the Jackson County Public Library have put together a voter registration program for Tuesday, which is National Voter Registration Day. That program allows voters to visit any of the library’s three branches or online at nationalvoterregistrationday.org.

For information, call Becky Brewer at 812-523-4636.

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Jackson County residents may register to vote from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday in the lobby of the Seymour Library, 303 W. Second St. At the Medora Library, registration will be from 2 to 6 p.m., and at the Crothersville Library, voter registration will be available from 4 to 6 p.m.

To register, people must be U.S. citizens, present a driver’s license or state identification card and be 18 by the next Election Day (Nov. 8). This is a free service.

Started in 2012 for the presidential election, National Voter Registration Day is designed to create an annual moment when the entire nation focuses on registering Americans to exercise their most basic right — the right to vote.

Americans can register at hundreds of events across the nation and online at nationalvoterregistrationday.org, which is a non-partisan group website.

Information: Becky Brewer at 812-523-4636


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