A record number of voters went to the polls in Tippecanoe County on Tuesday and Wednesday, likely because of the emphasis county election officials are placing on early voting, Tippecanoe County Clerk Julie Roush said.
On the first day of early voting, 1,024 people voted at the Tippecanoe County Building, an increase from 2016 when 780 voted early. Wednesday’s nearly 820 voters brought the average number to roughly 34 people an hour.
Never before have more than 1,000 voters showed up on the first day of early voting, Roush said. Before the vote center opened at 8:30 a.m., a line already stretched alongside the building.
Conversations with voters on Wednesday revealed that many are concerned about broad national issues this election cycle.
Tanya Hummels of West Lafayette, who said she also voted early in 2016, noted the importance and gravity of this election. In her view, the key issues at stake are climate change, health care, immigration human decency.
Her primary motivation, though, is “to get rid of Trump.”
Poll workers forced Brody Lohorn, who owns a clothing boutique with his wife, to turn his Trump shirt inside out before entering the polls because of Indiana laws that ban “electioneering.”
Electioneering is defined as wearing or displaying an article of clothing or sign that includes the name of a politician. It is banned at the polls under threat of a Class A misdemeanor for noncompliance, according to the state’s 2020 Election Day handbook.
“I can’t believe that in America, a country of free speech and all the civil rights that we have, I can sit here and tell you what I want to tell you, but I can’t wear it on a shirt,” he said.
Lohorn, who voted early in 2016 as well, said he’s primarily concerned with gun rights and “the left side of our country trying to shut down again.”
“The Democrats have just proven to me that their agenda runs off of fear,” he said. “If they can put enough fear and chaos into the world, then people will fall in line and do what they want them to do.”
Hannah, a student in the College of Liberal Arts who declined to give her last name, said she is voting early this cycle, as she did during the previous election, to avoid conflicts with school and work.
She stressed the high stakes and hot-button political issues at play in this election as strong motivators.
“I’m voting for Black lives, and I’m voting for LGBTQ lives. I’m voting for women’s lives,” she said. “All of those major issues are at stake this time, which didn’t feel the same the first time I voted.”
Staff reporter Liana Boulles contributed reporting.