One of the primary (that’s primary as in most signficant, not the May election) questions each Election Day is: What was the voter turnout?
As we await some of those numbers for today (we do know that approximately 92,000 people voted early or by mail, compared to 61,000 doing the same in 2006), a little history and reflection on the historic jump in participation we saw two years ago when the Obama-Clinton primary fight generated national attention.
In 2006 (a better comparison to this year as the most recent mid-term election), nearly 850,000 Hoosiers cast ballots. That’s 19,000 of registered voters. The top county vote percentages were in Benton (42%) and Martin (41%). In 24 counties, the vote percentages were in the teens.
Two years later, the votes in Indiana doubled to 1.7 million. There were 185,000 absentee ballots that year. Five counties (Greene, Lake, Martin, Henry and Vermillion) had at least half their eligible voters go to the polls and the lowest turnout number was 33% in several counties. (In November 2008, the vote percentage surged to an amazing 62%.)
What about the previous primary elections since the turn of the century? Amazing consistency. 2004, 21% turnout; 2002, 22%; and 2000, 19.5%.
Prediction for this time around: We’ll beat the 20% range of most years, not reach the 40% of 2008 but close more than half of that gap. In other words, lower 30s for a percentage. Too optimistic or a sign that voters are not happy and want to have their say?