This column is an updated version from May of this year. Why repeat the message? Central Indiana voter turnout for the May primary was pathetic across the board and that is simply unacceptable.
Out of 647,895 registered voters in Marion County, only 51,609 people voted. That’s a voter turnout of 7.97 percent. Records kept by the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office show that’s the lowest voter turnout for any non-municipal election in Marion County in at least 25 years. Hamilton County wasn’t much better at 12 percent and statewide turnout was only 13 percent.
Obviously, a lot of people missed my column. I’m giving it another chance as I’m fighting for increased voter participation one voter at a time, one election at a time. Please get to your polling place and vote on Nov. 4.
I wonder how many of us will exercise our right to vote this go around? I’ll go further; how many of us will fulfill our civic duty and obligation to be a part of the process by voting?
We can come up with a lot of reasons to avoid voting. Will you say you just don’t have time? You’ve got too many work and personal obligations. Maybe there isn’t one race or issue that hits your hot button. Maybe you haven’t taken the time to research who’s running for office and you don’t want to arrive at the ballot box uninformed. Maybe you don’t know where to vote.
What difference does voting make, anyway? The whole world’s upside down and you’re disgusted with all of it. It’s not even a partisan issue anymore. You’re equally disgusted with all the candidates, regardless of party affiliation. Beside, you’ve got more important things to do.
The last Indiana Civic Health Index report was completed in 2011. In that report, looking at the year 2010, Indiana ranked 48th out of 50 states among eligible voters in general-election voter turnout, with a rate six percentage points lower than the national average. Obviously, we can do much better.
Midterm election years are important. They have national, state and local implications. In the last midterm general election in 2010, Indiana voter turnout was 41 percent and the Indianapolis-Carmel MSA turnout was 40 percent. In the 2012 presidential election, Indiana voter turnout was 58 percent and the Indianapolis-Carmel MSA turnout was 60 percent. The national voter turnout in the 2012 general election was 57.5 percent.
I know you haven’t been bombarded by millions of dollars of television advertising this election season, but this midterm general election is still important. Please make time to look at the ballot in your voting district online and do a little research on the candidates. Then you won’t be walking into the voting booth cold. There are several easy ways to do this. Here are two:
• Google your county website and go to the elections page. It’s easy to verify if you’re registered to vote, see where you vote, and who’s on the ballot for what offices. All it takes is a street address and ZIP code in most cases. If you find you’re not registered, get it done now for the next election. It’s easy to register.
• You can go to indianavoters.com and easily navigate this user-friendly and all-encompassing website. The state of Indiana maintains this uniform electronic database that contains voter registration records for all of Indiana’s 92 counties.
And, after you’re sure where to vote and who the candidates are in your district, be sure to do your online research and learn more about where each candidate stands on issues that are important to you. Then you’ll be able to walk into your polling place on Nov. 4 and feel confident about your choices. You’ll have fulfilled your civic duty and done your part to make a positive difference in your community, in Indiana and in Washington, D.C. That’s a good thing.
So thanks for making the time to vote Nov. 4. Even if you plan to cancel out all my votes, I still urge you to get out and vote. We can expect better election outcomes when there’s greater participation in the process.•
Morris is publisher of IBJ. His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.