Locally-Focused Races Could Mean Lower Turnout at the Polls

May 5, 2014

There are no statewide races on the ballot in tomorrow’s primary. That hasn’t happened in Indiana in more than a decade, and could generate low voter turnout.

This is the first time since 2002 that there have been no statewide races on the primary ballot.  Only three statewide races will take place this fall – Secretary of State, Treasurer and Auditor – and candidates for those positions are decided at party conventions this summer. 

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson says it’s difficult to get a sense of what turnout this election will be like.

“We really can’t compare the numbers in 2002 to the numbers of absentee or early voting we’ve had this year because in 2002 we didn’t have no excuse early voting, so it’s hard to say,” Lawson said.

She adds it’s candidates and issues that drive every election – and political analyst Ed Feigenbaum says this year’s primary does offer some hotly contested local races.

“Whether it’s for sheriff as you see in the case of many different counties or judges in some cases or the regular other county offices,” Feigenbaum said.

Still, Feigenbaum says he expects the lack of a major statewide race to drive down turnout. 

Indiana’s electoral participation in a primary has topped 22 percent of registered voters only once in the last six elections, for the tight presidential primary in 2008.