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Fishers / Hamilton County / Elections / Regional News

Primaries matter despite one-sided races

May 5, 2014

Tuesday’s primary election is more than a practice run for November—especially in Republican-dominated Hamilton County, where partisan voters essentially are choosing the eventual winner.

Take the hotly contested mayor’s race in Fishers, which drew six GOP candidates interested in leading the fast-growing town as it becomes a city. No Democrats are running.

Fishers' first city election is generating most of the buzz, but Hamilton County voters also will find other key contests on the ballot: U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks has a primary opponent (and three Democrats are vying to take her on in November), for example, and state legislators Eric Turner, Jerry Torr and Jim Merritt are seeking re-election.

With such high stakes, you’d think the primary would draw voters from both parties who want their voices to be heard. All too often, the opposite is true.

In the midterm election four years ago, just 26 percent of registered voters in Hamilton County cast primary ballots.

The turnout was even worse for municipal elections in 2011: Despite contested mayoral races in Carmel and Noblesville, the primary drew less than 15 percent of registered voters, according to results from the Hamilton County elections office.

We can and should do better than that.

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