INDIANAPOLIS — The right to vote is a right Hoosiers apparently don’t utilize very much in non-presidential years, as statewide turnout for May’s primary election was just 13 percent.
It was even lower than that in Noble and Steuben counties.
The Indiana Secretary of State’s Office released its final turnout report from the May 7 municipal primary with voting numbers from the 69 counties that held primary elections. The other 23 counties — which included LaGrange and Whitley counties — didn’t have primary elections because there were no contested races or referendum questions on the ballot.
“Congratulations to Martin County and Rush County for posting the highest turnout in the state with 35 percent each,” said Secretary of State Connie Lawson in Tuesday’s release. “I hope to see more counties have a higher turnout rate this fall. When Hoosier voters are engaged, it benefits the entire state, and I will continue to leverage the resources of my office to ensure fair and accessible elections in every Indiana county.”
Turnout is typically the worst in municipal election years, when voters don’t have big races like president or U.S. Senator to pull them to the polls. In municipal years, voters are selecting their city and town representatives including mayors, clerk-treasurers and council members.
In this year’s primary, DeKalb County posted the highest turnout in the region at 27%, boosted by a school building referendum that drew thousands to the polls and was ultimately defeated.
Allen County, which had a competitive primary on the Republican ticket for the mayoral candidate, followed at 14%.
Noble County had just 9% of its voters cast ballots to decide a Ligonier mayor’s race, Ligonier City Council race and Kendallville City Council.
Steuben County, which only had one race to pick a Republican nominee for mayor to challenge incumbent Dick Hickman, had just 6% turnout.
Despite the very low turnout in Steuben County, it was not the lowest turnout in the state. Two counties posted 5% turnout and two counties, Putnam and Tippecanoe, had just 2% turnout in the election.
Turnout may be a little better come November, when Kendallville, Auburn, Angola and Fort Wayne will all have Republicans and Democrats facing off for mayor offices.