Sunday, November 01, 2015

Early Voting In Marion County Picks Up But Still Down One-Third

Early voting picked up in Marion County considerably the final weekend of this year's municipal election, but the number of voters taking advantage of early voting is still down 33% from the turnout numbers at this same point in the 2011 municipal election. As of the close of business today, 5,489 voters took advantage of early walk-in voting compared to 8,194 four years ago.

A similar story is playing out with mailed-in absentee balloting where 35% fewer voters have requested mail-in absentee ballots from this same point four years ago. By this weekend, the Marion Co. Election Board had processed 6,658 absentee ballot requests compared to 10,306 four years ago. Even more troubling is that fewer absentee ballots are being returned. The return rate has been 71% compared to a 90% return rate recorded four years ago at this same point. As of today, the election board had received 4,716 completed absentee ballots compared to 9,283 in 2011 at this same point, which translates into a 50% decline in mailed-in absentee voting.

Mayor Greg Ballard's winning margin in 2011 when nearly 30% of the voters participated was about 7,500 votes, which is about equal to the reduction we've seen to date in voters participating in early walk-in voting and mail-in absentee voting. In 2007, Ballard defeated incumbent Mayor Bart Peterson by a little over 5,300 votes when about 26% of the registered voters participated in the election, but his winning percentage margin in both elections stood at just 51% of the votes cast. The talk to date attributes the significant drop-off in participation in this year's election to lower participation among the City's African-American population, which could not be good news for Democrats since blacks traditionally cast about 90% of their votes for the Democratic candidate.

It's interesting to note that Joe Hogsett's campaign funneled $3,000 campaign contributions within the past week to each of the black City-County Council candidates running in predominantly black districts, all of whom face no serious contest in this year's election. Presumably, this is a last-ditch effort by Hogsett's campaign to light a fire under these candidates' feet to get out and work in the closing days of the election to turn out more black voters since they are already assured of winning their respective elections on Tuesday. While black churches brought a significant number of people to the clerk's office this weekend to cast early votes, there were still nearly 20% fewer people voting by early voting the final week of the election this year than four years ago. Early voting ends at noon tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this update, Gary, although it is no real surprise the voters are neglecting candidates of both parties in this municipal "race"- if that's what you want to call it. There is one thing Republican Mayor Greg Ballard and his Marion County GOP and the Democrat majority in the City Council have proved to the voters time and again is that there is no consequence for the people who take their time to go to the polls and vote. It really does not matter who is elected. The politicians will do what they want and what their corporatists want them to do and it is all at the poor taxpayers' expense. It does not really matter who becomes your mayor although The Hogster is going to be victorious.

The career politicians neglected the voice of the people in lawless Republican Mayor Greg Ballard's ACS parking meter scam, the career politicians neglected the voice of the people in the corrupt Vision Fleet scheme, and the career politicians neglected the voice of the people in the outright theft of the publicly owned free parking spaces and giveaways of tax credits in a unilaterally (for our Councilors, that means "one-sided") 15 year monopoly scheme to a corporatist French multibillionaire for crying out loud. And this is to name just a few of the pay-to play-schemes the prickly, thin-skinned corpulent ex-soldier rammed down the unwilling taxpayers' gullet.

It does not matter who becomes your City County Councilor. Councilors are recently proved to be like a vestige of a now dead political past supplanted by Emperor Mayors propped up by corrupt attorneys and corporate interests. Laws are apparently intended for the unclean masses paying for all these schemes that probably could not materialize in a real free market economy.

How silent are the Councilors about all they've allowed to occur under their watch... or how angry and nasty they get when you hold them accountable... no wonder.

Stay home during the muni elections, people. Save the electronic ink on your Councilor's paycheck for something worthwhile.

LamLawIndy said...

The base case is still a Hoggsett win, but something IS up: I've gotten 2 anti-Hoggsett mailpieces in the past week from the state GOP. Perhaps the poor turnout figures do indeed portend disappointment for the Dems.

Downtown Indy said...

The Dems must be super-confident this time around, as they haven't paraded the County Clerk out to hype the early voting nor have they put out their usual litany of 'GOP voter suppression' propaganda. Why, I don't even recall one gripe about voter photo ID this time.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Low voter turnout elections produce unusual results. I would be very concerned if I were a Democratic leader right now. All signs point to this election turnout being lower than the 2007 election when Ballard upset Peterson and Republicans took control of the council. Democrats need only fear if the turnout in Republican areas fares as badly as the turnout in Democratic areas. That's not been the case in past elections where turnout was unusually low.

Anonymous said...

If Chuck Brewer wins- which is not at all to say Democrat Hogsett is any better- and many of the special-interest focused, impotent do-nothing but support corruption City Councilors are retained to privilege and power, the lunacy of the electorate will be proved.

Anonymous said...

Certainly the Democrats are worried since there has been only one Democrat elected to the Mayor's office since 1967. If you are happy with the way things have been run then Brewer is your man.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I think even if turnout falls to 15%, Hogsett wins. The 2007 situation was different. By Election Day 2007, Peterson had shot himself in the foot so much that Ballard had caught him in the polls. While I haven't seen any polling this year, I doubt there is any credible poll that shows Brewer within striking distance of Hogsett. While Ballard's win was predictable (and I did so predict the weekend before that election), you'd have to go way out on the limb to pick Brewer to upset.

However, if turnout falls to 15%, Democrats are likely to lose those narrow Republican-leaning districts that they otherwise would have an excellent chance to win. Republicans could actually retain control of the council which I only recently though has become possible. I think the Republicans deliberately are tanking the mayor's race to help convince D's there is no reason to go to the polls.