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Voters lay out their concerns at 'Meet the Candidates' Thursday

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- More than a dozen local and state candidates met with St. Joseph county voters on Monday at the St. Joseph County Public Library.

The League of Women Voters and Indiana University at South Bend’s American Democracy Project hosted a Meet the Candidate forum. The groups said they wanted to provide voters “one last look” at the candidates before they cast their ballots on or before November 6.

“They host these forums to give us a chance to actually ask questions and hear directly from the candidates, not just some soundbyte on TV,” said Kathleen Neal, a voter in the county.

More than 20 candidates stretching from South Bend Community School Corporation Board of Trustees to the Indiana House of Representatives and Senate candidates met with the group of voters. Ellyn Stecker, another voter in the county, said after the deadly shooting in Pittsburgh she wanted to hear civility among them.

“I’m expecting to hear a little more civility in our local elections than we’re hearing at the national level,” said Stecker.

Stecker said she is looking for a candidate who favors reproductive rights for women. She also said having a better balanced Senate and House of Representatives at the state level is important to her.

“A number of bad ideas have made it through the legislature in the five years because they haven’t been balanced by good discussion among various sides,” Stecker said.

The crowd was small inside the auditorium, but Stecker and Neal agreed the midterm election is important.

“I have never missed an election since I was registered at 18,” Neal said. “I’ve voted in every midterm and every general.”

In 2017, St. Joseph County saw just a 29 percent turnout for midterm elections. However, early voting numbers are up this year.

Last week, ABC 57 News reported more than 292,000 Indiana voters submitted their ballots early, more than double the approximately 137,000 early voters in Indiana during the 2014 election cycle.

“I think it’s important that everybody know there’s early voting going on everyday,” Stecker said.

Early voting is available at the County-City Building in South Bend from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for holidays.

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