Primary Voter Turnout Could Set State Records

May 3, 2016

Credit Zach Bernard/WBOI News

Indiana has historically ranked very low among the 50 states in voter turnout during primary elections, but that might not be the case this year.

Primary season is winding down, and Indiana is expected to be a big player in both the Democratic and Republican presidential races.

Andy Downs from the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics says turnout for this year’s primary could be record-setting, or very close to it. And while Indiana is receiving a wealth of unexpected national attention, it’s not unprecedented.

“People are mentioning 1976 on the Republican side,” said Downs. “That’s the year Reagan took on incumbent President Ford, and Reagan won Indiana that year, that was a pretty exciting year in the state. Obviously, 2008 was an exciting year in the state.”

But if Indiana has had exciting primaries in the past, why are voters expected to come out in record or near-record numbers in 2016?

“In the end, we’ve really not had many opportunities where both the Republican and Democratic primaries mattered at the same time on the presidential level,” he said.

In Columbia City, voters shuffled in and out of First Church of God on DePont Drive during their lunch breaks. Donna Herald said she voted for the first time in 40 years.

“I just don’t like the way the country’s going,” she said. “I’m probably a lot more conservative than a lot of people.” Herald wouldn’t disclose who she was voting for specifically, but did explain her choice:

“I’d like to see some things change."

Since April 20, presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have all made the rounds throughout the Hoosier State.