Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Do Hamilton County voters care about local issues?

Yesterday, voters went to the polls in the Noblesville and Hamilton Southeastern School districts to vote on approval of bond issues, and accompanying tax increases to pay for them.  One would think, given the passion often shown for school activities, that this would have large-scale voter involvement and high turnout at the polls.  Right?

Wrong.

Voter turnout yesterday was a meager 10.4% of the eligible voters.  Only 10,547 souls out of a possible 101,390 bothered to cast a ballot.

Given the issues, borrowing tens of millions of dollars and resulting in higher property taxes, one would expect, regardless of position, that interest would be high.  But it was not.  Obviously.  Worse, the two political parties struggled to fill poll worker positions.  In my own experience, more than half the usual workers that I recruit in Fall Creek Township declined for one reason or another.

Sadly, this is not new.  In the 2011 municipal elections, only 15.85% of eligible voters participated in the fall election.  Since many offices went with light or no opposition due to the one-party dominance in Hamilton County, one would think the primary at least would have had a high turnout.

Wrong again.  Primary turnout in 2011, despite some hotly-contested races, was only 14.62%.

And here are some more depressing turnout figures from past local elections:

  • 2009 HSE Schools referendum, 18.46%
  • 2007 municipal elections, 20.20% (much of that in Carmel, where every race was contested)
  • 2003 municipal elections, 24%
Not only do people not appear to care, it appears to be getting worse.  And I don't have a clue what to do about it.  This is a pretty affluent, and well-educated county.  People should care, and get involved.  But few enough do, and the others watch, or not.   

Not good enough.  There are more reasons than I can list to pay attention, get involved, and vote.  But people are NOT paying attention to the government closest too them.  That is sad, and bad for us all.