Switzerland County goes to the polls: voter turnout in county over 54-percent

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Like the rest of the country, Switzerland County voters went to the polls in nearly record numbers on Tuesday, helping to elect a new President, Governor, and on down to local county offices and school board seats.

Switzerland County finished with a voter turnout of 54.1-percent; with poll workers around the county reporting a steady stream of voters throughout the day.

“It’s been busy all day,” poll worker Jennifer Miller said at the East Enterprise firehouse. “They were lined up at 5:45 a.m. this morning waiting on the polls to open, and it’s been busy ever since.”

“We’ve been steady,” poll worker Patty Chase said at the Florence firehouse, where York Township voters were casting their ballots. “There really hasn’t been a lull. People have been here pretty much all day.”

“It’s been pretty steady here,” poll worker Vickie Althoff said at the Moorefield firehouse. From 6-8 a.m. we had a real rush of people.”

“There’s always been someone in here,” poll worker Suzanne Rayls agreed.

The thoughts of the poll workers was being validated at the ballot box, as voting numbers were up county wide. Switzerland County Clerk Ginger Peters said that 3,747 people voted in the General Election, out of a possible of 6,931 on the county rolls.

And the rush of voters wasn’t limited to Tuesday.

Like other parts of the state and nation, Ginger Peters said that her office saw an increase in the number of voters who voted early by absentee ballot or by coming into the clerk’s office to vote.

“In the May primary, we had 286 absentee ballots total,” Ginger Peters said. “This election, that’s almost tripled. As we got close to time to stop absentee voting, we had 663 ballots and were expecting four more, so that would make 667 total votes.”

Ginger Peters said that most of the early voting came from people coming into her office to vote, and the clerk’s office had two special times on Saturdays that people could vote early. Many people took advantage of the Saturday hours.

“We had 394 walk ins for our office; 226 ballots where people voted by mail; and 43 people voted using the traveling board,” Clerk Peters said.

And, as Switzerland County voters went to the polls in large numbers, voters apparently went to the polls with an eye on individual candidates, as winners at the county level crossed political lines.

Switzerland County vote totals showed Republican John McCain winning in the presidential race; Democrat Jill Long Thompson winning in the governor’s race; Democrat Baron Hill winning in the Ninth Congressional District; and Democrats Linda Pence and Dr. Richard Wood winning for Indiana Attorney General and State Superintendent of Public Instruction, respectively.

The only one of those races that held true statewide was Baron Hill’s successful campaign in the Ninth District; as Barack Obama won the state for the presidency; Mitch Daniels won another term as Governor; Greg Zoeller is the new Attorney General; and Tony Bennett is the new State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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The county races saw a couple of historic elections, as Switzerland County elected its first-ever Circuit Court Judge in Democrat Greg Coy; and its first-ever Prosecuting Attorney, in Democrat Monica Hensley.

Until this time the county has shared a circuit district with Jefferson County; but a new circuit district just for Switzerland County was passed during the last session of the Indiana Legislature.

County races were highlighted by the race for the County Council At Large seats, where incumbent Democrats Steve Crabtree and Darrell Hansel won reelection; but incumbent Republican John Keeton was unseated by Democrat Steve Lyons.

In the race for County Commissioner in District One, Republican incumbent Brian Morton won reelection over Democratic challenger Danny Hehe in another closely-watched race.

There were also several county seats that saw candidates run unopposed.

Democrat Darla McKay McAlister was elected at the new County Recorder; while Democrat Stacey Penick was reelected as the County Treasurer. Democrat incumbent Craig Bond was reelected as the County Commissioner in District Two; and Republican Brian McAllister was reelected to another term as County Surveyor.

Democrat Lewis Fritter was unopposed on Tuesday, and will be the new County Coroner as of January 1st.

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Tuesday’s election was also centered on the school board, as four seats were up for election: Cotton Township; Pleasant Township; the Town of Vevay; and York Township.

In Cotton Township, incumbent Bill Roberts defeated challenger Mark Lohide; while in Pleasant Township, incumbent Jim Phipps defeated challenger Denise Maxwell.

In the race to represent the Town of Vevay, incumbent Wayne Daugherty won reelection over challenger Ron Otter; and in York Township, first time candidate Tonya Moore won over first time candidate Shannon Hoffman.

The four school board representatives will begin four-year terms on January 1st.