She joined more than 200,000 other Indiana voters who had cast early ballots as of Thursday night, according to the Indiana Secretary of State's office. That number already surpasses the 170,000 who cast absentee ballots before the last midterm elections in 2006. Voter interest is not the only thing driving the increase, there also seems to be a growing awareness and appreciation of voting options.
“Actually, it was convenience: I was already in the building and decided on the spot,” said Scott Rush, 46, who also voted in Indianapolis.
Political party leaders agree early voting is easier for busy voters.
“It's more convenient to do it on your own time,” said Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker. “The early voting options are critical to allow people to cast their ballot.”
About 110,000 people had cast in-person absentee ballots and another 95,000 had returned absentee ballots by mail as of Thursday, according to the secretary of state's office.
Marlene Taden, the chief deputy clerk for elections in northwest Indiana's Newton County, said there seems to be a lot of interest in local races.
“We've got a lot of people coming out,” she said.
Democrats have pushed early voting efforts and estimate about 44 percent of the early votes cast in Indiana so far have been cast by their party.
In the tight congressional races in Indiana's 2nd, 8th and 9th Districts, more than half the early votes have been cast by Democrats, Parker said.
“It proves to us that our voters are engaged,” Parker said.
But Republicans suggested those numbers are skewed because many independents who voted Democrat in 2008 may swing Republican this year.
Indiana Republican Party spokesman Trevor Foughty said early voting helps parties get votes in the bank, which can be important in a midterm election when turnout is lower than presidential years. Getting people to the polls early means less chance they'll forget to vote on Election Day.
“Both parties have put more of an emphasis on early voting,” Foughty said.
Hoosiers have two main options for voting early: absentee-in-person ballots, which anyone can cast by visiting their county election office until noon on Nov. 1, or absentee-by-mail ballots, an option available to those who fall into specific categories.
The state used to require all early voters to sign affidavits stating why they couldn't vote on Election Day, but lawmakers passed a law in 2002 to allow people to cast absentee-in-person ballots without an excuse.