When it comes to voter turnout, Indiana’s track record is not great. Among the states, it routinely ranks in the bottom third.
In the 2020 presidential election, about 65% of registered Hoosier voters cast ballots. The most comprehensive data available from the U.S. Elections Project says Indiana’s turnout rate that year ranked 42nd.
Turnout drops precipitously in non-presidential years. And the worst of the worst is turnout for municipal primary elections, like the one Indiana has coming up on Tuesday.
Four years ago, just 9% of Marion County registered voters cast ballots in the municipal primary.
There’s no excuse for it to be that abysmally low this year. The Democratic and Republican primary contests for Indianapolis mayor are as lively and contested as they have been in years, offering voters plenty of choices with differing visions.
On the Democratic side, incumbent Mayor Joe Hogsett is seeking a third term and is facing a spirited challenge from State Rep. Robin Shackleford. (Read more about that race on page 1A from IBJ’s Taylor Wooten.)
Businessman Jefferson Shreve and attorney and political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz are battling it out for the GOP mayoral nomination, along with the Rev. James Jackson. (Information about that race and many others throughout central Indiana can be found at IBJ.com.)
Several competitive races for the City-County Council also are on the ballot.
In the northern suburbs, several communities will be choosing new mayors after longtime incumbents decided to step aside.
In Carmel, Jim Brainard is giving up the mayoral post after 28 years. City councilors Sue Finkam and Kevin “Woody” Rider, along with former Hamilton County Councilor Fred Glynn, are seeking the GOP nomination. The winner will face Democrat Miles Nelson in the fall.
In Westfield, Mayor Andy Cook is stepping aside after four terms. Kristen Burkman, Jake Gilbert and Scott Willis are seeking the GOP nomination to succeed him. No Democrat has filed to run for the post.
Zionsville also will be getting a new top executive as one-term Democratic Mayor Emily Styron steps aside. Republicans vying for the chance to succeed her are former Zionsville school board member Jane Burgess and retired TV news anchor John Stehr. No Democrat has filed to run.
In Marion County, three school districts are seeking property tax increases through referendums. Indianapolis Public Schools is seeking $410 million to upgrade buildings.
As you can see, a lot is at stake in Tuesday’s election.
So IBJ urges you to take some time before 6 p.m. on Tuesday, when the polls close, to look at who’s running, do a little research and cast votes for the people you believe would make the best leaders for your community.
Go to indianavoters.in.gov to check your voting status, find out where to vote and see when polling sites will be open in your area. Then do your civic duty and cast your ballot, no matter your city of residence. The future of your community depends on it.•
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