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Huntington County votes red

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HELP: Election judges help a voter find an open machine to cast a vote. Judges said they felt the increase in voter turnout from the last midterm election, which actually increased by 20 percentage points from the 2014 election, according to election records.
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Photos by Andrew Maciejewski/Huntington Herald-Press LINE: Voters wait in line to vote at the Huntington County Courthouse. Even at the busiest pricincts, which saw nearly 1,500 voters, wait times never exceeded 10 minutes, according to clerk reports.

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

As nearly 1,000 voters walked out of the Huntington County Courthouse on Election Day, a majority of them hoped that they helped the Trump Administration succeed in its goal to retain control of the legislature and continue to grow the economy.

Even though the region only had two national races to vote for, those seats were the main motivator for people to vote this year, according to Herald-Press exit polls. Both political parties called on their bases to get out and vote early, with many states reporting spikes in voter turnout.

In Huntington County, the message resonated with the Republican Party, since early voting totals showed voters chose the Republican straight ticket at least four times more than the Democratic straight ticket. More than 24 percent of the nearly 24,000 registered voters elected to cast their ballots early, and overall voter turnout reached more than 55 percent, which is nearly 20 percentage points more than the last midterm election in 2014, according to Huntington County Clerk’s office records.

The only contested local government race on the ballot went relatively unnoticed, Tuesday, as incumbent Steven Buzzard and Carrie Miller beat out Michael Yoder to claim the two open seats on the Warren Town Council.

Major races that went uncontested included Chris Newton for sheriff, Amy Richison for prosecutor, Davin Smith for Circuit Court judge, Rob Miller for county commissioner, along with Todd Landrum, Kendall Mickley and Keith Eller retaining their county council seats.

As for the national races, Mike Braun (R) had a narrow lead on incumbent Joe Donnelly (D) for the US Senate seat up for grabs in Indiana, and Jim Banks (R) had a comfortable lead on first-time challenger Courtney Tritch (D) for the US Congressional seat for District 3, according to poll results as of deadline Tuesday night.

At the state level, Indiana State Senator Andy Zay (R) edged District-17-hopeful Gary Snyder (D), according to unofficial results as of deadline, and Indiana House of Representatives District 50 incumbent Dan Leonard (R) beat Jorge Fernandez (D).

According to Huntington County early voting totals, every republican candidate received at least more than double the amount of votes than the democratic candidate. Many said that they want to see President Donald Trump succeed.

“I definitely want to keep doing what Trump’s doing, so he needs all the support he can so that he doesn’t get locked up with no votes at all,” Robert Stepler said.

Mark Crider said that he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, but he said he would like to see Democrats stop being so divisive.

“Trump could say he’s got the cure for cancer, and it wouldn’t be enough for them,” Crider said. “That’s just on my nerves.”

He said he wants to see more cooperation between both parties.

“Not the typical bipartisanship, like what the media would say, where the Republicans have to do what the Democrats want,” he said. “I’m talking about true bipartisanship where they actually meet halfway.”

Dena Grover said she voted this election because she wants to look out for her family by voting inline with Trump’s agenda, since he is growing the economy and reducing unemployment.

Even though there wasn’t a single democratic candidate in any local race, there were some people who voted in this election to resist what they’re seeing in the White House, since there were democrats running at the state and national level.

“I vote every year (in Huntington County),” Jeremy Kelker said. “I came out this year because our government is just insane in Washington. It’s crazy. People who have not educated themselves in history or ethics don’t understand how messed up our government is currently.”

He said he hopes people realize that refugee children aren’t being treated humanely and that America’s decision to make Jerusalem the capital of Israel has harmed Palestinians who’ve lived there for centuries.

He said the national spike in voter turnout is promising, especially in Indiana, since Indiana has fairly predictable voting trends.

“It’s mostly based on how old the people are,” Kelker said. “The people who could most strongly oppose, for instance, the party that’s doing nothing about having a president that’s out of control are of an age where they can vote yet 40 percent of those people don’t show up and vote.”

Michael Tome brought his daughter Elycia to the polls to show her how to vote responsibly. He said he never votes straight ticket.

“I look and see who is going to be most beneficial for our country, our area, our local government,” Tome said.

He said an issue he hopes to see change is more election literacy, where voters know more about the candidates they’re choosing.

“It’s my job to show my kid how to vote and understand – do the research on who they’re voting for,” he said. “One big issue is making sure that the future of our country is understanding what needs to be done.”