How early voting turnout might impact in-person voting on Election Day

Politics

INDIANAPOLIS — More than 1.7 million Hoosiers already officially made their decision for the 2020 election. The turnout nationwide is close 100 million so far.

The polls open on Election Day at 6 a.m. and remain open until 6 p.m. Marion County has 187 polling locations, and registered voters who still need to vote can go to any of them.

If you are planning to turn in a completed absentee ballot, you have until noon on Tuesday, November 3 to bring it to your polling site. If you have not filled out your absentee ballot yet, you are able to surrender it at your polling site and vote in person. But, you must bring your blank ballot with you.

With the high voter turnout so far, election experts say this could mean shorter voting lines on Election Day.

“At the same time, because early voting numbers have been so high, that indicates a really high voter turnout overall, which could be emulated on Election Day itself,” said Dr. Laura Wilson, associate professor of political science at the University of Indianapolis. “That part is really hard to predict, but no doubt these numbers seem to be really high and will likely eclipse what we saw even in 2016.”

Wilson explained that the high voter turnout does indicate how excited people are for this election.

“This belief that their vote really does matter,” Wilson said. “In part, especially in Indiana, there’s a lot on the ballot. It’s not just the president, although we talk a lot about the presidency, but people are really seeing a difference that they can make themselves.”

At the end of early voting, Russell Hollis, deputy director of the Marion County Clerk’s Office, said 30% of registered Marion County voters have already cast their ballots.

“We typically see something closer to maybe 10% or 15%,” Hollis said. “So the fact that we are doubling and tripling the early voting turnout thus far, it’s just astronomical.”

In Hamilton County, the election staff counted almost 142,000 people already voted. The turnout so far is 54%.

“I expect most polling locations will be busier first thing in the morning, but I don’t expect them to be busy all day long,” said elections administrator Beth Sheller.

Wilson added that high voter turnout could be seen as benefiting both parties.

“Early voting is often seen as benefiting both parties,” Wilson explained. “In part because the people that take advantage of early voting, either they need the flexibility from an economic perspective, which would generally benefit Democratic candidates, or they’re older and they don’t want to have to vote on election day, which would generally benefit Republican candidates.

“Everything we’ve seen, and this would be more nationwide, shows that it’d be a wash. It wouldn’t benefit one candidate or one political party any more than another. That said, in 2020 and looking at Indiana, we’ll have to see with the election results whether or not that’s true here in our circumstances or if that’s just something we know on a larger trend that may not apply in our state at this time.”

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