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Election officials: Primary turnout improved but still very low

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An early voter on Monday says he considers voting in primaries just as important as voting in general elections.

Gregory Grundy stopped by the City-County Building a couple of hours before the deadline to cast an early ballot for Tuesday’s municipal primary. Grundy, who served in the Army for six years, says he votes in primaries, as well as general elections because he feels it’s his civic duty to do so.

“Our city has been going through so much lately,” he said. “I just want to do my part. Voting is not the end-all, be-all, but everybody has an obligation, I believe.”

Grundy is one of more than 12,000 people who voted early this cycle. Marion County Clerk Karen Brinson Bell says that’s more than four times as many as voted in the 2019 municipal primary, but it still represents a fraction of the total number of registered voters.

Bell says she would like to see more people turn out, particularly in primary elections. “This is where you decide who is going to represent your party in the fall,” she said.

Numerous cities and towns across Indiana have primaries on Tuesday. In Indianapolis, state Rep. Robin Shackleford is challenging incumbent Mayor Joe Hogsett in the Democratic primary. The Republican side includes former City-County Council member and Storage Express founder Jefferson Shreve, attorney and former radio host Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, and Fervent Prayer Church Pastor James Jackson.

In Carmel, three Republicans are running in the primary to succeed retiring mayor Jim Brainard. A similar story is playing out in Westfield, where three Republicans are vying to succeed Andy Cook, who is not seeking another term. There are also mayoral races in Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Evansville, and Muncie.

Some areas have ballot questions, as well. Indianapolis Public Schools has a $410 million property tax question intended to fund a new elementary school and upgrades at 23 existing school buildings. Warren Township and Speedway schools also have ballot questions.

Grundy says he always votes in primaries because it ensures his preferred party nominee is the one that most closely matches his priorities. Even if the election seems heavily tilted against your preferred candidate, he says it’s still worthwhile to make your voice heard. Plus, he said Marion County’s election staff are very efficient.

“Even if it is a long line, they get you in and out so fast, it’s no big deal,” he said.

Polls open at 6 a.m. Tuesday and will remain open until 6 p.m. Anyone standing in line when the polls close will be allowed to cast a ballot. 60 of Indiana’s 92 counties are vote-center counties, meaning anyone registered to vote in one of those counties can vote at any polling location in that county. Vote center counties include Marion County and all of the counties bordering it except Hamilton County.