Early voting sites in Brownstown, Seymour open for primary election

The primary election in Indiana isn’t until May 3, but Hoosiers who want to beat the crowd on Election Day could start voting as of yesterday.

Jackson County voters can currently visit one of two early voting sites during each weekday and on Saturdays to cast their ballot.

They are the Jackson County Learning Center, 323 Dupont Drive, Seymour, and the enclosed shelter house at the Brownstown Park, 715 W. Bridge St., Brownstown.

Both sites haven’t served as early polling sites before. In past elections, early voting was conducted at the Jackson County Clerk’s Office in Brownstown and the former Jackson County Superior Court I building in Seymour.

The reason for the new early voting sites is because the primary election is the first election in Jackson County to use vote centers, and larger locations are needed to accommodate them.

A vote center is a polling site where any Jackson County voter may cast their ballot, regardless of their voting precinct.

The Brownstown site is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and the Seymour site is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the same days. Both sites are open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

The Fraternal Order of Police Donald M. Winn Lodge 108, 1752 First Ave., Seymour, also will be the place registered voters can cast ballots before primary Election Day. It will open April 18 with the same operating hours as the Jackson County Learning Center site.

All three early voting sites will be open from 8 a.m. to noon May 2.

Andrea Edwards, voter registration clerk for Jackson County, helped set up the voting machines at the Brownstown location on Tuesday.

When Edwards arrived at the shelter house, she said she was thankful for Brownstown Park Superintendent Kevin Hanner having the site cleaned up and ready for the voting machines before she arrived.

She said the location is great for the voting machines because there is a crockpot bar to set them all on with multiple electric outlets to plug into.

With the county’s election operations shifting to vote centers, voters cannot vote with a paper ballot and must use an electronic machine.

Edwards said even if voters aren’t writing their votes on paper, the electronic machine prints out a paper ballot with visible lines showing their selections.

Since the rainy weather wasn’t encouraging for voters to leave their homes and get to the polls, the first vote cast in the primary election in Jackson County was done by Shannon Wehrkamp, a poll worker at the Brownstown site.

She said she always votes early so she doesn’t have to wait in line on Election Day.

Wehrkamp has worked the polls before and said she enjoys it because she’s retired and gets to see and talk with other people when they come in to vote.

The second ballot cast in Brownstown was from Melanie Pottschmidt, a candidate for Brownstown Township trustee.

“Since I am running, I figured I should get in here and have at least one vote,” she said.

This was the first time Pottschmidt voted early. She said she had a good experience, and the process was quick. In previous elections, she had voted at Ratcliff Grove Christian Church on State Road 135 in Freetown.

Pottschmidt said she hopes the change that goes with vote centers being used in county elections will bring awareness to early voting and voting in general.

County Clerk Melissa Hayes cast the first ballot at the Seymour center.

She said it was a struggle to find large enough locations for the early voting sites but was happy with the final locations.

“Everything has gone smooth, and everything is up and running,” Hayes said.

Merle Barnett, 76, of Seymour was the second person to vote at the learning center. He said he has been voting since getting out of the U.S. Navy in 1967.

Due to a test that was going on at the learning center on Tuesday morning, the front door was locked and people entering the building had to ring a doorbell to be let in.

Hayes said she didn’t think getting into the building would be an issue in the future, and she plans on having a worker in the front of the building to help get people into the voting site.