By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The halls of the Elkhart County Administration Building were packed Monday afternoon as voters made use of their final day of early/absentee voting before Tuesday’s presidential election.
County officials have traditionally offered two locations for early/absentee voting, one at the County Administration Building in Goshen and one at the County Courts Building in Elkhart. Both buildings were in heavy use Monday, with early/absentee voting officially ending at noon.
According to Elkhart County Clerk Wendy Hudson, early/absentee voting for the general election is shaking out to be very similar to the turnout seen in the presidential election of 2008, though there has been some variation.
“It started out being heavier than 2008, but it has slowed,” Hudson said. “So now I think it will be a little less than we did in 2008.”
Hudson said she has not had a chance to compile an estimate of how many of Elkhart County’s 124,643 eligible voters have cast an early ballot this year. However, she said she’s anticipating an overall turnout similar to that seen in 2008.
“I’m going to guess a 60 percent turnout,” Hudson added.
Jonathan Hershberger, a Goshen College student from Lancaster, Pa., was at the County Administration Building Monday afternoon with his sister, Vanessa Hershberger, a GC graduate and resident of Goshen.
“This is actually my first election,” Jonathan said. “I’m of age this year, so I wanted to exercise my right to vote.”
As for his decision to vote early, Jonathan said it was a combination of both a desire to avoid the lines on election day coupled with just a little nagging from his older sister.
“I figured it’d be easier than trying to do it (Tuesday),” Jonathan said, “and my sister convinced me to come out. Voting is our way of affecting policy and how policies are made, so yeah, I think it’s very important.”
For Vanessa, voting early Monday was about not having to take off work Tuesday to go to the polls.
“I would normally vote on the day of the election, but I work all day (Tuesday), and I wanted to make sure I had a chance to vote,” Vanessa said. “I feel very strongly that voting is one of the many ways to exercise our rights as citizens to influence the system. This election in particular is very important to me. I care a lot who wins, so I wanted to make sure I had my vote counted.”
For Goshen resident Lexie Sylvester, a longtime early voter and poll worker, voting early is a must due to the hectic nature of being a poll worker on election day.
“I vote early every year because I’m either working the polls or helping with voting on election day,” Sylvester said. “You have to be at the polls at 4:30 to 5:30 a.m. to get everything ready, and it’s a full day, so it’s just easier to get voting out of the way early.”
Goshen’s Lynne Lehmer, a first-time early voter, was at the County Administration Building Monday as a way to ensure her vote doesn’t get lost in the mix on election day.
“I don’t think I’ve ever voted early before, but I decided to do it because I wanted to be sure if for some reason something happens tomorrow, that I’ve had a chance to vote,” Lehmer said. “Four years ago, I had a mail-in ballot because I was living in Colorado at the time, and after the election my envelope came back to me, so my vote never even counted. So this time around I’m not taking any chances.”
As for Goshen’s Janice Books, the decision to vote early Monday was all about peace of mind.
“I’ve done it before, and I just like to get it out of the way so I don’t have to worry about it,” Books said. “It’s so important. This is what it’s all about.”