Statewide Turnout Is Light For Tuesday’s Election
May 7, 2014 –– TheStatehouseFile.com
INDIANAPOLIS – Turnout was light Tuesday as voters went to the polls to choose Republican and Democratic nominees in county, legislative and congressional races.
Robert Dion of the University of Evansville said there wasn’t much motivation for voters. That’s because it was a primary election and an off-year, which means there’s no race for governor or president, and therefore little of the political advertising that drives voters to the polls.
“It would be astonishing to see big numbers,” Dion said.
By midday, the Indiana Secretary of State’s office – which oversees elections statewide – reported no calls about voting problems. And county officials reported few problems – and even fewer voters.
At 10 a.m., only about 30 people had come to vote at the two precincts located in Garfield Park in Indianapolis. Laura Garcia was handing out campaign literature at the park’s recreation for Michelle Smith Scott, a candidate for Center Township Small Claims Court.
“I’m surprised. It’s kinda slow,” Garcia said as she took a break on a park bench. “Maybe it’s too early. I hope more people will come later.”
This was Garcia’s first time participating in the political process and she was surprised so many voters asked whether she was a Republican or a Democrat. “I’m not really into politics,” she said. “But Michelle is a wonderful woman.”
The polls closed at 6 p.m. but official voter turnout numbers won’t be available for days or weeks.
Washington County Deputy Clerk Susan Pennington said early turnout had been light but she had seen more absentee voting.
And Harrison County Clerk Sally Whitis said turnout had been light and she had no reports of voting issues. But that’s no surprise. There were no contested races on the ballot there.
That was true in many areas of the state – but not all. “There are a number of exciting races but only in specific areas,” said Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Politics at Indiana-Purdue, Fort Wayne.
Also, for the first time in 12 years, there were no statewide races on the primary ballot.
The top races were congressional contests, although only a few of the state’s incumbents had serious challenges, Dion said.
But Dion said a light voter turnout can sometimes lead to unusual outcomes. “Just a small motivated group can grab a nomination,” he said.
Most of the state’s better races will take place in the fall, when there will be two statewide matchups – state auditor and treasurer – on the ballot. Republicans and Democrats will choose their nominees for those races at political conventions in the coming weeks.
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