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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, November 04, 2018 1:00 am

Allen County sees jump in early voting from '14

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Election Day on Tuesday will tell whether Allen County is seeing much greater voter turnout in this year's presidential midterm election or if many more people simply were taking advantage of wider access to early voting opportunities – or both.

Beth Dlug, county elections director, said that as of mid-afternoon Friday, 21,250 residents had voted early in person and 9,000 absentee ballots had been mailed. In 2014, the last midterm election, 5,500 people voted early in person and 5,000 did so by mail.

Dlug pointed out that Allen County offered satellite voting sites this year that were not available in 2014. Regardless, early voting this year is “very, very big,” she said.

“I think there's a lot of get-out-the-vote efforts now, too,” Dlug said. Political organizations and advocacy groups “are getting their people to the polls. They want those votes in.”

As a rule, voter turnout is far lower in midterm elections than in presidential contests. Only about 75,000 people voted in Allen County in the 2014 midterm, and nearly 151,000 voted in the 2016 presidential election.

But many political analysts are predicting much heavier turnout this year because even if President Donald Trump's name is not on ballots, his policies, job performance and unconventional approach to the position certainly are. Trump – who will have a campaign rally for Republican candidates on Monday at Memorial Coliseum – is thought to be generating widespread voter enthusiasm among his supporters and opponents alike. 

The last early-voting opportunities in Allen County will be offered from 8 a.m. to noon Monday at the Rousseau Centre in downtown Fort Wayne.

What advice does Dlug have for Election Day voters? She said they need to have their state-issued photo identification cards, such as driver's licenses, to vote. And they should make sure they know where their assigned polling locations are. People might not be aware that their precinct polling site has moved, Dlug said, and some people mistakenly think they can vote at the Rousseau Centre on Election Day rather than at their assigned site.

Sample election ballots are available at allencountyvoters.info and on Pages 4-5C of today's Journal Gazette.

Riding with POTUS

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, wasn't expecting an audience with President Donald Trump last Saturday. But that's what he got.

Banks and fellow U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-9th, greeted Trump at the airport in Indianapolis before Trump spoke at the FFA convention.

But when Banks and Hollingsworth headed for a white van they were to ride in during the motorcade, Trump unexpectedly said, “Ride with me.”

So Banks jumped into “The Beast” – the uber-fortified limo that ferries the president around to events – for an unexpected 25-minute ride.

Banks said the vehicle is smaller inside than one would think, with four seats in addition to those up front for the driver and a Secret Service agent. Banks sat across from Trump.

They talked about that morning's shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11. Trump said he was feeling pressure to postpone his FFA speech, Banks said, but that Trump didn't want evil to win.

Banks told the president he supported his move for additional troops along the U.S.-Mexico border to stop a caravan of Central American migrants, and Trump asked both men about their respective races for re-election.

“He talked a lot of about Indiana and how good Indiana was to him in the election,” Banks said, noting that during the entire limo ride people were standing along the road with signs and flags and Trump would wave at them.

“He is very chatty,” Banks said. “I tried to work in a few things.”

At the end of the visit, Banks told Trump that he was elected to Congress and his brother was elected to county council on the same night Trump was elected president.

Banks said his father “was so much more excited about you becoming president,” to which Trump remarked that Banks' dad has good taste.

Trump later surprised Banks at the speech by calling him up on stage.

“Completely unscripted,” Banks said. “I was very unprepared for the moment, but it was great.”

Hoosiers back Trump, sort of

Polling results released recently showed most Hoosiers approve of President Donald Trump but are less supportive of his tax cuts and tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

The Old National Bank/Ball State University 2018 Hoosier Survey found that 53 percent of adult residents of Indiana approve of Trump's job performance and 39 percent disapprove. The telephone survey of 604 people was conducted Oct. 2 through Oct. 20 and has a margin of error of 5.1 percentage points.

The poll found 42 percent of respondents approve of Trump's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, while 41 percent oppose the tariffs.

“Indiana is one of the leading steel producing states, but we also have many steel consuming manufacturing firms and workers,” Charles Taylor, managing director of the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State, said in a statement. “So, it is not really surprising that Hoosiers are so divided on this aspect of trade policy.”

The Bowen Center conducts the annual Hoosier Survey.

State residents were far more supportive of raising tariffs on Chinese exports, with 54 percent in favor and 33 percent opposed.

The poll showed 41 percent of people approve of the tax cuts promoted by Trump and passed by Congress in late 2017, compared with 31 percent who disapprove.

“Approval of the tax cuts isn't as widespread as some might have hoped,” Taylor said. “When we look at approval by income group, we find that tax reform is more popular with higher income Hoosiers than those with lower incomes.”

The survey found that 55 percent of Hoosiers with annual household incomes of at least $75,000 approve of the tax cuts, compared with only 29 percent of people with annual incomes of $30,000 or less.

The entire 2018 Hoosier Survey will be released in mid-November, Ball State said.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.