By the time noon rolled around Saturday, more than 1,100 Johnson County residents had already cast their ballots at the county’s five early voting centers.

The Johnson County Courthouse has been open to early voters since Oct. 12, and voting began Saturday at four new votes centers: the John R. Drybread Community Center in Edinburgh and the White River, Trafalgar and Greenwood library branches.

These four locations, along with the courthouse, will be open for voting each weekday this week, as well as Saturday. Early voting concludes at noon Nov. 7, with voting taking place that day at the courthouse only.

Election Day is Nov. 8, with polls open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. More vote centers will open to the public on that day.

The 1,109 county residents who cast their ballots between 8 a.m. and noon Saturday represented almost a quarter of the 4,808 people who voted early up to that point, said Trena McLaughlin, Johnson County Clerk.

Interest in local races seems to be drawing more early voters than the last mid-term election in 2018, she said.

“I think from what we’ve seen so far, we’ll have more early voting (than in 2018),” she said. “There’s the (White River) Township Trustee race, Center Grove, Franklin, Greenwood and Whiteland have contested school board races, and Franklin Township Board has a contested race,” she said.

The mail-in ballot requests may also be a good indicator of overall early voting turnout, which included about 24,000 county residents in 2018. As of Saturday, 3,940 mail-in ballot had been distributed, compared to 2,824 four years ago, despite uncontested local races for prosector, sheriff, clerk, recorder and auditor, and the lack of a school referendum, she said.

At Johnson County Public Library White River branch Saturday, candidates for some of those contested races, including White River Township Trustee and Center Grove Community School Corporation Board of Trustees, greeted voters heading to the polls.

While most voters may have made up their minds by now, it is important for candidates to be there to show they are serious about the job they’re vying for, said Bill Collins, running for Center Grove school board. Collins stood outside starting when polls opened at 8 a.m. with Center Grove school board candidate Gary Robinson and White River Township Trustee candidate Suzanne Fortenberry.

“Everyone’s been cordial. I think for the most part, people have an idea of who they’re going to vote for. There’s been a couple of people who have stopped by and asked questions, and people say ‘hello,’” Collins said. “We’re happy to see so many people coming out. We’re happy to see them here because they care.”

Fortenberry, a Democrat, said her political party isn’t relevant to the office she’s seeking.

“Elections are about way more than Republican versus Democrat. It’s non-partisan. It’s about helping people,” Fortenberry said. “It goes way beyond politics. None of my signs have Democrat on them. It doesn’t matter. I have family members who are Republican and Democrat, that’s why I’m standing with the other side of the aisle. It needs to be civil, and I want to bring that back into politics.”

Sue and Rick Galloway were two of about 150 people who voted at the White River library branch Saturday morning.

Sue Galloway, a former teacher at Center Grove schools who had children who had gone to school there, said she was casting one of her votes for Gary Robinson in the school board race.

“I’ve worked with him through church and coaching, he’s a good man. I’ve known him for many years and he’s always concerned about the kids,” Sue Galloway said.

The Galloways both said continued recovery from COVID-19 learning loss is a top concern of theirs.

Laura Brown, who declined to share who she was voting for, said she was anxious to get her vote in.

“I think the senate race is probably the most important. Here in Johnson County, we’re limited with our party selections but each one is important,” Brown said. “I think the country’s democracy is number one, along with crime and economics, but the democracy has to stay intact, because it’s wavering. People need to feel comfortable to vote, allowed to vote and know their vote counts. If you don’t vote, you really don’t have a right to complain. If everybody who is eligible to vote did vote, I feel like the country would be in a better place.”

At the Johnson County Courthouse, 184 voters had cast their ballots by noon, with Friday being the busiest day of early voting at the location, when 413 people voted, McLaughlin said.

Whiteland resident Judy Gutermuth cast her vote at the courthouse for Clark-Pleasant school board candidates who she thinks will listen to parent concerns, she said.

“We need to speak up about what’s happening in our schools,” Gutermuth said. “We get a choice and we get to have our voices heard.”

Judy Perry a Franklin voter, said she was concerned schools were getting involved in teaching students about more than just academics.

“People are concerned about schools ignoring the basics, which is reading, writing and arithmetic,” Perry said. “Younger people don’t realize what socialism, Marxism and communism is and the concept of what it is.”

Editor’s note: The original version of this story contained an error within a quote. The speaker meant to say White River Township when referring to a contested trustee race that could have something to do with increased voter turnout. 

When and where to vote in Johnson County

Johnson County Courthouse, 5 East Jefferson St., Franklin

Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 7, 8:30 a.m. to noon.

White River library, 1664 Library Blvd., Greenwood

Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Greenwood Public Library, east door, 310 S. Meridian St, Greenwood

Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Trafalgar library, 424 S. Tower St., Trafalgar

Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

John R. Drybread Community Center, 100 E. Main Cross St., Edinburgh

Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.