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April 2, 2014

MORRIS: There are no excuses

The primary election is only 34 days away. And according to Larry Kochert, a former 24-year New Albany City Councilman, it could be one for the books.

In a bad way.

“I talk to a lot of people, and they don’t know about the vote centers,” he said. “A lot of people don’t think about it until the night before. I think it may be a record low turnout.”

Primaries usually draw a low turnout anyway, and with Floyd County switching to 10 vote centers instead of the local precinct sites, Kochert may be right. But let’s use his words as a warning, and try to educate ourselves on vote centers.

Let’s look at the positives. The move to 10 vote centers will save the county money in the long run. Fewer precinct sites mean fewer workers are needed.

But that isn’t the main reason to embrace the new concept.

Voters will no longer be required to cast their ballot at one location. While it’s nice to be familiar with the location and its workers, it will also be convenient to stop at any of the sites and vote. There are six city sites, and four county locations.

Floyd County vote centers will be located at the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library;  New Albany Housing Authority; Pine View Government Center; Grace Lutheran Church; Floyd County 4-H Fairgrounds; Christ’s Community Church; Tunnel Hill Church; Georgetown Christian Church; John Jones Automotive in Greenville; and Floyds Knobs Community Club.

So, if you live in the city, but are out in the county, you can stop and vote at one of the county spots. That makes it easy. And the new voting machines, which also will be unveiled May 6, should also be quicker and easier to use.

While it’s important for voters to understand that they must now vote at one of the 10 locations, they should not use it as an excuse to not vote. Yeah, it’s different, but sometimes change is a good thing.

And it’s not like you have to drive to Corydon or West Louisville. There are no excuses.

I have never understood why primary elections draw so few voters. To me, that is the time when parties elect their candidates for the fall election. Hopefully, a few hotly contested races will bring out the people. I think it will.

The most interesting Floyd County primary race is in the one for Floyd County sheriff. On the Republican side, you have veteran police officers Frank Loop and Steve Bush. Both have more than 20 years of law enforcement experience and both have political experience.

Loop ran for sheriff eight years ago, losing to Darrell Mills, while Bush is a three-term Floyd County Commissioner. The race should be the best of the night, and should draw Republicans and independents out to support their guy.

There is also a competitive race on the Democratic side as well, as Floyd County Councilman Brad Striegel goes against Floyd County Sheriff’s Maj. Jeff Topping.

The race for sheriff is not the only one that draws my interest. Mills hopes to trade in his badge for the Floyd County Clerk’s seat. He will go up against incumbent Christy Eurton in the Democrat primary. Also, two veteran politicians, Ted Heavrin and Barbara Sillings, will square off in the race for Floyd County Council District 2.

While the primary helps give political junkies their much needed fix after a nonelection year in 2013, the general election may put them over the edge. I am already all geared up for the race for Floyd County Commissioner between Republican incumbent Mark Seabrook and Democrat Dan Coffey, a current veteran of the New Albany City Council. To my knowledge, neither of these political heavyweights have ever lost an election. Someone’s streak will end in November.

But first things first, we must all go out and vote in the May 6 primary. It may be corny, or may not have much meaning to Generation X, but many Americans died for us to have the right to vote, as a free man or woman. It is our duty to make sure the blood shed on those battlefields is never forgotten.

Luckily, I have never missed an election. I credit my parents for being active in politics and instilling in me the importance of voting.

So don’t let the switch to vote centers, or rain, or whatever keep you from the polls between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 6. Go out and VOTE.

• Remember, if you haven’t registered to vote, Monday, April 7, is the deadline. Hoosiers should visit IndianaVoters.com to verify, update, or start a voter registration.

— Chris Morris is an assistant editor at the News and Tribune. Reach him at chris.morris@newsandtribune.com or by phone at 812-206-2155.

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