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Early voting begins at Courthouse

VOTE EARLY: Miami County Absentee Board members Kay Smalley andLinda Comerford scan a resident’s driver’s license into the e-poll book at the Miami County Courthouse on Tuesday, the first early voting day.

BY CAROLINE EGGERS - ceggers@perutribune.com

Miami County residents began casting their votes for the primary elections on Tuesday morning at the Miami County Courthouse.

Residents scanned their driver’s licenses or state issued ID cards, electronically signed a tablet and selected their candidates in MicroVote booths.

If you knew who you were voting for, you could be in and out in a matter of minutes.

That’s in part thanks to the new addition of e-poll books. The Courthouse added the electronic system for the 2016 general election, and it has made things much easier and a lot quicker, according to Tawna Leffel-Sands, Miami County clerk of courts and secretary of the Election Board.

About 50 folks had voted before noon on Tuesday.

One citizen wasn’t sure if he wanted to select Democrat or Republican – he was just there to vote for his neighbor.

“You want the sheriff to be your friend,” said Absentee Board Member Kay Smalley, who monitored the voting process along with fellow board member Linda Comerford on Tuesday.  

Two of the four Absentee Board members will be stationed at the Courthouse for the next month. There will be one democrat and one republican at all times.

“To protect the process,” Leffel-Sands said, “they take an oath to do the job.”

Smalley also serves on the Traveling Election Board, and urges folks who are able to get out and vote early to avoid needing her services beyond May 7.

On election days, she takes voting materials to people in the event of an emergency – last year she drove to Fort Wayne so someone could cast their vote while in the hospital.

But more simply, voting early means you can avoid standing in long lines, or missing a chance to vote entirely.

On Tuesday, Leffel-Sands thinks a lot of the voters were eager to support their potential future sheriff or prosecutor.

Those races are always heavily contested in Miami County, she said, but one race did surprise her this year:

“I’ve never seen a coroner race with candidates vying this hard for it,” Leffel-Sands said. “They’re very enthusiastic candidates.”

Early voting at the Miami County Courthouse will continue Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until May 7, when the polls will close at noon.

Citizens can also mail in applications for absentee ballots at any time. As soon as the application is received, the Absentee Board will return a ballot.

On the two Saturdays prior to the primary election, the following vote centers will be open on April 28 and May 5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.:

• Miami County Courthouse

• Bunker Hill Community Center

• Denver Baptist Church

• Blair Ridge Health Center

• Converse Town Hall

On the primary election day, these locations will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.:

• Miami County Courthouse

• Bunker Hill Community Center

• Denver Baptist Church

• Blair Ridge Health Center

• Converse Town Hall

• Area 5 Agency-Senior Center

• Parkview United Methodist Church

• Miami County Fairgrounds

• Macy Christian Church