Midterm elections typically have lower voter turnouts and Tuesday isn’t likely to break the trend.
In fact, University of Evansville political science professor Robert Dion said the numbers could be even smaller than in the past because there are few prominent races on the ballot in Indiana.
“Typical things that drive voter turnout up are not present in this cycle,” Dion said. “You have the absence of a presidential race. There are also no senate races this year.”
The top of the Indiana ticket on Tuesday will be the secretary of state’s race and congressional contests, all of which are expected to go to the incumbents.
Dion also said competitive races also can drive up voter participation. But that’s not happening this year either – at least not statewide.
“There are not a lot of high-profile, hotly contested races that might increase voter turnout,” Dion said.
Four years ago – the last midterm election – about 41 percent of Indiana’s registered voters showed up at the polls or cast an absentee ballot. In 2006, it was 40 percent.
Dion is predicting voter turnout will be in the 30-percent range this year.
But some county clerks are more optimistic.
Shelby County Clerk Vicki Franklin said good early voting numbers could predict a good turnout.
“Early voting has gone very, very well. Our numbers are up from the spring,” said Franklin.
More than 1,000 people have voted early in the office, she said, about 300 more absentee ballots are expected.
Franklin said voter turnout locally will be decent because of several local races – including the battle for seats on the Shelby Eastern School Board.
Jefferson County Clerk Karen Mannix is also optimistic about the percentage of people voting in the midterm elections. About 10 percent of registered voters have already voted by absentee ballot and by mail.
“We hope to have 50 percent of voters (participate),” Mannix said. “We average about 40 percent (during midterm elections). I can’t say we will do better than that because we don’t have a referendum, but we will see.”
Dion said low turnouts show that voters aren’t taking advantage of an important societal role.
“This is unfortunate and too bad, really, because voting matters and elections are important,” Dion said. “Decisions will be made that will affect each person. In the best of both worlds, we’d have everyone come out.”