Where, Oh Where Are All the Voters?

I am the first to admit that I make my share of mistakes. Just ask my wife, children, friends, co-workers. … You get the picture.

But unlike 79% of eligible Hoosiers who did not take a few minutes to vote on primary Election Day, I did cast my ballot on May 4. And I’ll be there on November 2 when the general election rolls around. More people will decide to be part of the process at that time, but the numbers will still be way lower than what one would expect. People should vote — not because it’s their duty (well, maybe it is), but it’s a right and a privilege to help choose your government representatives. OK, that’s the end of the soapbox.

In this space earlier this month, I was swept up in the 2008 election euphoria (40% turnout due to the Democrat primary battle for president) and predicted 30% or more participation this time around. Didn’t happen. Not even close. The totals sunk back to traditional levels for non-presidential primary years. That is a real shame.

For those looking to be informed now, the Chamber’s IBRG continues to update its election report with results and analysis. In addition, the state released some numbers yesterday. Included in its info:

Data compiled by the Indiana Election Division from post-election reports filed by Indiana’s 92 counties show 21 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the 2010 primary election. Of those who voted, 11 percent cast an absentee ballot.

Voter turnout for the 2010 primary election was slightly higher than the 2006 primary, when 19 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. In the 2004 primary, voter turnout was 21 percent, and in 2002 was 22 percent. Due to the heavily contested Democratic Presidential primary in 2008, voter turnout was an unprecedented 40 percent.

The newly released figures show a 54 percent increase in absentee voting compared to the 2006 primary election, the most recent primary election with a similar voter turnout to 2010. In this year’s primary 94,671 Hoosiers cast an absentee ballot. Of those, 48,666 voters cast their ballot in person at a county clerk’s office or satellite voting office. The remaining 46,005 ballots were cast by postal mail or by traveling board.

In 2006, 7 percent of Hoosiers cast an absentee ballot in the primary. In the 2004 primary, 6 percent of Hoosiers cast an absentee ballot, and in the 2002 primary, 7 percent of Hoosiers cast an absentee ballot. In 2008, 11 percent of Hoosiers cast an absentee ballot in the primary.