County sees high turnout

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Citizens filled the second-floor lobby of the Putnam County Courthouse to hear the results of the Indiana Primary Election nearly an hour before the results came in. The limited seating and the hum of excited conversation was just a small reflection of what had been going on all day at the various polls.

Total voter turnout for Putnam County came in at 39 percent of all registered voters, with 38 percent voting for Ted Cruz and 56 percent voting for Donald Trump. The First South precinct, the southwest side of Greencastle including DePauw University and Asbury Towers, had the lowest voter turnout at 20 percent. Foxridge precinct, just south of Greencastle including south of Veterans Highway and east of U.S. 231, had the highest at 50 percent. The average voter turnout for Putnam County was 38 percent.

"We had an excellent turnout," Sandi Rossok, a poll worker for the Washington South precinct, said, "way better than past years."

Rossok, who has worked at the polls for the last 10 to 15 years, went on to say that around 100 voters was the usual, but that this election saw more than twice that at around 300.

"There was a lot of (news) coverage here," Rossok said. "I think a lot of people took that seriously. We had people who had never voted before. And they weren't young."

Lynette Williams, a poll worker for the Washington North precinct, said that one voter, who looked like she was 40 or 45 years old, hadn't voted since she was 20 years old.

"I think we had a good turnout," John Berry, Cloverdale, said. "There is just a greater interest this year. It had a big Republican turnout, which is misleading on the Republican side because not as many Democrats turned out. It's like we had a choice and it mattered. Normally the decision is already made before it gets to Indiana."

But voter turnout was not the only surprising outcome of the election. Berry said the fact that Trump won Indiana despite the Indiana Republican Party's endorsement of Cruz shows that "the people are speaking."

"The Sanders-Clinton race, I'm a little surprised," Putnam County Coroner Dave Brown said. "Sanders seems to be running pretty good. I think Clinton will have to wake up."

One recurring comment was on the overall oddity of the election. Richard Hull, 74, of Washington Township, has been voting since 1962 and said that he had never seen a stranger election year "as far as stability and knowing who's going to win. I've never seen anything like it. That's all I can say."

Beau Baird, who was elected a State Convention delegate and whose father is the District 44 state representative and a State Convention delegate, said the "mood of the country" might be to blame.

"It's hard to describe the feeling of the country right now," he said, "but I think we can see it in the results. There is unease with the direction the country has been going for the last eight years. (The election of Republicans and Democrats) probably happens in cycles, but it's more exaggerated right now."