Friday, November 17, 2006

At Last, A Final Count Of The Votes In Marion County

Ten days after the general election, the Marion County Election Board is finally able to produce final results in all the races in Marion County. There were a total of 203,737 votes cast in Marion County, or 33% of the registered voters. That's about 5,000 more than voted in the last off-year election in 2002, but it is down three points as a percentage of the registered voters. It's also the lowest turnout of registered voters in many years. These final results are still subject to possible recounts.

In that closely watched House District 97, Jon Elrod (R) stretched his narrow win over Rep. Ed Mahern (D) from 5 to 7 votes. It should be noted that the Marion County Election Board voted along party lines not to count 3 absentee ballots which arrived late according to the Star. Even if all those votes had been for Mahern, Elrod would still hold a 4-vote lead. A recount is anticipated. It is unclear to me what the circumstances were for those 3 absentee ballots arriving late, although Doris Ann Sadler says this happens every election and the ballots are simply discarded. If the voter returned the absentee ballot in a timely fashion and election officials simply, through negligence or mistake failed to deliver them to the polls on election day, it seems to me that those votes should be counted. If they arrived late due to the voter's failure to return the ballot in a timely fashion, then the votes should be discarded.

In the Secretary of State's race, Todd Rokita (R) received about 2,000 fewer votes than Democrat Joe Pearson, which has significance for determining ballot placement of the party's candidates and the party affiliation of election inspectors for the next election. Rep. Julia Carson (D) maintained a 10,400-vote lead over Eric Dickerson (R) in the final count for the 7th congressional district. Carson received 53.7% of the vote to Dickerson's 46.2%. That represents Carson's closest race yet. Rep. Larry Buell (R) received about 500 more votes than John Barnes (D) in the close 89th District race. Also, Warren Township Trustee Tom Marendt (R) edged Jeff Bennett (D) by just 7 votes in the final count.

Marion Co Prosecutor Carl Brizzi (R) finished with a much smaller lead than he would have liked. His 6,700-vote victory over Melina Kennedy (D) is much closer than anyone expected. He received 51.7% to Kennedy's 48.3%. Based on the results in the 91st House District, Democrats may take a harder look at Rep. Bob Behning (R) in two years. Behning beat Democrat Tim Huber by less than a thousand votes, receiving 56.8% to Huber's 43.2%. That race received little attention by either party. Also, Democrat Russell Brown finished a little closer to Sen. James Merritt (R) than earlier results. Merritt defeated Brown by about 2,300 votes, receiving 53.9% of the vote compared to Brown's 46%.

What I really find disturbing in the Marion County results is the number of straight-ticket voters. Over 60% of the votes cast were straight-party votes. Democrats received about 11,000 more straight-ticket votes than Republicans, 63,533 for the Democrats to 52,814 for the Republicans. While I'm a Republican, I can think of very few elections in which I've voted a straight-party ticket. The trend towards more straight-ticket voting with a considerable edge for the Democrats doesn't bode well for Republicans in future elections. Unless that trend is reversed, Marion County will soon become a one-party county ala Cook County, Illinois--and all that that implies.


Anonymous said...

I think the outcomes for Elrod/Mahern and Buell/Barnes would have been different, had not the Republican party dumped so much money at the last minute towards their campaigns. But thats the way politics goes.

Was the Democratic party asleep at the wheel?

Mahern is my Rep. and I really hope he files for a recount. I can't imagine why he wouldn't. This whole process has been very discouraging. I wouldn't be surprised to see voter turnout lower and lower.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Kevin, You know that Jon worked his butt off to win that race while Ed sat on his with a big wad of cash in his campaign account. Your negative attitude towards Elrod is simply not justified. He ran as a centrist, not as right-wing, religious fanatic. He reached out to the GLBT community. These are the things you say you want from the Republicans, but when they have a candidate who does it, you still complain.

Anonymous said...

Ed Mahern must have the distinction of being the only incumbent Democratic legislator to lose this year anywhere in the country.

Anonymous said...

I'm still disappointed in the Election Board's interpretation and voting to not count the three absentee ballots. If it's the boards option I think the General Assembly needs to take away that option and require all absentee ballots be counted regardless of when they are received AS LONG AS THEY ARE POSTMARKED BY ELECTION DAY.

But at least two races I was interested in pulled off razor-thin wins - Tom Marendt in Warren and Jon Elrod in 97th.

indyernie said...

I wonder if we can get Dickerson back next election...the GOP would have to support him...I hope so.

Anonymous said...

Indyernie, for the sake of all of us, can we have a Dickerson embargo for, oh, 72 hours. The chum and blood in the water will draw Wilson again. Thanks.

AI, state law requires absentees to be sent to the voter's home precinct. This year, as in most years in this county, several ballots didn't make it out to individual precincts. It was no fault of the voters, but negligence (or overworked fatigue, more likely) of clerk's office workers.

The Indiana recount law requires voter intent to be the primary reason for detemining a ballot's
validity. So, those absentees will be counted in any recount.

I'm told in the 97th race, there are about 35 ballots discarded for various reasons...both clerks didn't initial, etc.

They'll all be counted, too, in all probability.

Doris Ann didn't run one good election. The system conspired against her to some degree. But her office made stupid decision after stupid decision.

Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

AI, I hear Mahern isn't really excited about a recount. If he loses, he's got a much better paying lobbying job available to him. Losing is looking better to him all the time.

Anonymous said...

Mahern trolling the halls for cash sounds about right.

When are we going to enact reasonable prohibitions on legislators and administrative appointees, using the revolving door to lobby?

It's insane. It fuels the distrust which ordinary citizens have of their government.

And God forbid these lobbyists should be regulated. They used to be regulated by the Secretary of State. I'm no Todd Rokita fan, but if he directed the zeal toward lobbyists, that he has to the "catrostophe" of Voter ID and vote fraud, we'd be fine.

But no--the legislature, in a bipartisan move in 1990, removed that task from the SOS. They placed it in--ready for this?--the hands of a commission they appoint entirely. It's a paper tiger.

Nice neat little circle, huh?

Anonymous said...

Gary, WHOA! Go back and check your archives, I posted a comment on another post about this race saying exactly the same things you just said. Where have I displayed a negative attitude towards Elrod? Please show me. I have said I support Mahern because he has a PROVEN record on GLBT issues and I'll go with that vs. a promise made by a newcomer that may or may not be kept. (Ike Randoplh anyone?)

I've even said that Elrod is the type of Republican that I want to see in office, I just wished he was in a different district.

I know Elrod worked his butt off while Mahern did nothing, I've stated that before. But an infusion of cash at the last minute for his media blitz clearly helped him too.

I complained about the voting and tabulation process, NOT about Elrod. Am I disapointed that my candidate didn't win? - Yes. Do I have a negative attitude about Elrod? - No.