County seeing lots of early voters
Call it early voting, call it absentee voting -- either way, it's the same thing and this election, more Putnam County voters than ever are taking advantage of it.
"Oh my gosh, it's been just unbelievable," said Marty Watts, clerk of Putnam County's Superior and Circuit courts. "In the past, we'd maybe have 170 people in a week or two. Now we're having that many come in a day. And that's just walk-ins."
Early voting -- previously referred to as absentee voting -- has always been an option, but in this election the candidates have been focusing on making sure voters know it is available to them.
"This is a historic election," Watts pointed out. "The candidates and the media have been on a kick about reminding people about early voting, and it's just caught fire."
To date, 2,705 people have cast early votes in Putnam County. This includes 1,943 walk-ins, 148 taken by a travel team and 614 mail-in applications.
Secretary of State Todd Rokita estimated that 817,000 people in Indiana either registered to vote for the first time or updated their voter registration.
Watts said in her estimation, it seems as though voters just care more about this election than they may have cared about past ones.
"In the past, Indiana hasn't necessarily made an impact on how an election turned out," she said. "I mean, have you ever seen presidential candidates come to Indiana as often as they have this time around? I think it's made people care more, and that's a good thing."
Watts said she figured more people would come vote early this year, but that she wasn't prepared for how many actually did.
"Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected this kind of turnout," she said.
Watts lauded the efforts of election workers, who don't get paid much and have had to work harder this year than ever before.
"They've gone days without going to lunch," she said. "I make sure to bring them water and to bring in treats for them so they know how much I appreciate all their hard work. They are so dedicated."
Early voting will continue at the Putnam County Courthouse until Monday. Voters may cast ballots today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Monday from 9 a.m. to noon.
Neighboring counties are also experiencing an early voting boom.
In Clay County, 1,782 people have already voted. In Greene County, the number has topped 1,500.