Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Early Voting Numbers Show Potential For Bigger Turnout


The tide for voting before Election Day has been very high this year.

In the normally sedate midterm elections, voter turnout is typically down. It appears that has changed this year. Over the last week, I have seen multiple Facebook posts from friends saying that they waited in long lines to vote in person at the Marion County Clerk’s Office and at the two satellite sites. Now, the numbers on early voting are in, and they are impressive.

21,825 voters took advantage of absentee voting. Of those, 10,697 were early voters. 7,530 voters exercised their franchise in person at the Clerk's Office. 3,167 voters utilized the two satellite voting sites on Indy's Eastside. The rest of the numbers include vote-by-mail, traveling board, and military ballots. The 21,825 includes about 1,600 ballots that have yet to be returned, according to the Clerk's Office. These numbers are up from 13,245 absentee voters in 2006 and 10,449 voters in 2000.

That means that more people took advantage of the early voting process this time despite the GOP-led efforts to curb it. Marion County Clerk Beth White should be commended for using the powers at her disposal to make sure that there were a variety of voting options for all of Marion County’s voters. In short, it's been a busy few weeks in the Marion County Clerk's Office. Beth White has also seen the busiest four-year election cycle ever recorded with eight elections instead of the normal six. This extraordinary situation included the 2008 Special Election following Julia Carson's death and the 2009 Wishard and school referendums.

If early voting numbers are an indicator, when the polls open today, that could mean a larger-than-expected turnout for a midterm election. Who knows what that means in Marion County?

That could mean that Republicans and other conservatives decided that enough was enough and went in droves to the early voting polling sites to cast their vote. It could also mean just the opposite; that the pleas of President Barack Obama, Organizing for America, and other organizations have turned out a more left-leaning early voting tally. Pundits typically say that early voting in person benefits Democrats most.

Still, the bottom line is that not enough people exercise their right to vote. For some people, they are turned off by the political process. Others are turned off by candidates. Still others feel like they don’t have a stake in the action. The process, however, is inescapable.

Elections do matter. Congresswoman Carson often said on politics, “When you’re born, you’re birth certificate is signed by a bureaucrat, and, when you die, your death certificate is signed by a bureaucrat. You can’t escape it.”

She was right. The political process affects us all. That’s why you need to get out today and exercise your right to vote. Nothing says you have to fill in every circle. Just, when you’re in doubt, I urge you to vote for Democrats.

Click below to see the numbers from Beth White's Office for yourself.

3 comments:

Abdul said...

John,

The data infers that early voting doesn't necessarily bring more turnout.

In 2004, there was 53% voter turnout in the general election. In 2008, that number was 54.7%. And more than 64,000 people took advantage of early voting.

I'm all for people participating, but early voting doesn't really do all that much to increase turnout, all you do is rearrange the furniture.

guy77money said...

I was number 175 at the Baptist Chuch in Wanamaker (your old stomping grounds) at about 9 A.M. this morning. About normal for a off year election.

Jon E. Easter said...

Briefly my old stomping grounds. I lived in Franklin Township for two years.