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EDITORIAL: Hoosier voters owe it to themselves to cast a ballot

April 13, 2018

The idea that Russia would meddle in our elections is undeniably alarming, and the effort to prevent future attacks deserves our full support. But the biggest threat to our democracy comes from within: a disengaged population that doesn’t vote.

In the last midterm election, in 2014, voter turnout in Indiana was below 30 percent, ranking last among the 50 states. The primary turnout that year was much worse: 13 percent of registered voters statewide and an abysmal 8 percent in Marion County.

With primary elections a month away and the beginning of early voting April 10, Hoosiers once again have an opportunity—and compelling reasons—to do better. It’s time to boost those turnout numbers and, in the process, make some big decisions about who will represent us in the Statehouse and in Washington, D.C.

Republicans Luke Messer, Mike Braun and Todd Rokita are involved in a contentious primary as they vie to represent their party in the bid to unseat incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly, the Democrat who in 2012 captured the seat held for 36 years by Republican Richard Lugar. Lugar, who was widely respected across the political spectrum, lost to the upstart candidate Richard Mourdock in the primary that year, a contest with voter turnout of only 22 percent. Republicans, don’t make the same mistake this year. Go to the polls and pick your favorite.

At the state level, Sen. Mike Delph, a polarizing figure in the Statehouse who’s never faced a primary challenger, is battling former Carmel Redevelopment Commission Executive Director Corrie Meyer in the Senate District 29 Republican primary. As reported in IBJ April 6, Meyer has the support of the Indy Chamber and a long list of Republican mayors and former mayors in the district, which includes parts of Carmel, Zionsville and the northwest side of Indianapolis. It’s considered a safe Republican district in the fall, so the May 8 primary is the best opportunity for voters to influence who will represent them at the Statehouse.

Early voting gives Hoosiers a month to cast their ballot, an option that takes away election-day excuses such as, “I got busy and ran out of time.”

Marion County early voting is at the Marion County Clerk’s Office in the City-County Building. Hamilton County offers early voting at Fishers and Westfield city halls, Carmel Clay Public Library and the Judicial Center in Noblesville.

Marion County election officials were slow to embrace early voting and faced charges they were trying to suppress the turnout in the Democratic-majority county by offering only one early voting site. We’re glad the Marion County Election Board voted earlier this year to expand the number of early voting centers beginning in 2019. More can be done, and we encourage state and local election officials to be more proactive in exploring longer voting hours and alternative voting methods. Those officials should be leading the charge to boost turnout, not bringing up the rear.

Ultimately, elections are decided by voters—not election officials or covert Russian propaganda campaigns. Voting is a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. Go to the polls this primary season and do your part.•

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To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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