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Monday, May 2, 2016

Lower turnout surprises officials

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The public count of votes from the 2012 Clay County Primary, which took place Tuesday, had both county party chairs perplexed.

Clay County has a total of 18,851 registered voters. Of these, only 4,884 voted Tuesday, including 653 absentee ballots.

A total of 25.91 percent of registered voters took part in the primary Tuesday.

"Democrats didn't get out and vote," Clay County Democrat Party Chair Joe Broyles said. "This time, the numbers are way down."

County Republican Party Chair Jodi Lohrman agreed.

"It's staggering to me," Lohrman said. "But our primary is so late in the season, and the focus is on the presidential race. I think there is a tendency to focus on the national level and not realize how important the local races are, too."

Clay County Election Office Deputy Clerk Jason Jacobs told The Brazil Times the numbers might have been lower this year because -- for the most part -- the Republican Presidential Primary is virtually concluded.

He added a lack of contested races in the primary at a local level might have kept people away. At the county level, only the Commissioners (Democratic ticket, District 2), Coroner (Republican ticket) and Council (Democratic ticket, At-Large) were contested.

"It might be a combination," Jacobs said.

Jacobs added he noticed throughout the early voting process, people had asked for an independent ballot. In Indiana, during a primary, voters may choose either to vote on the Republican or Democratic tickets.

"There really weren't too many contested races," Jacobs said. "You had (the Senate race between Richard Lugar and Richard Mourdock). (The Republican Presidential ticket) was pretty much down to (Ron) Paul and (Mitt) Romney and most people had already decided on that one."

Jacobs said officials believed the turnout would be larger.

"Obviously, we were hoping for a bigger turnout," he said. "But we weren't really sure how exactly it was going to turn out. It was a nice day. We figured more would (get out and vote). But we heard from a couple of (precincts) that it was slow. There were a couple of others that said it was pretty steady."

In comparison to the past three presidential primaries, 2012 was by far the lowest.

In 2004, a total of 5,652 ballots were cast, which accounted for 29.3 percent of the registered voters in the county at the time.

In 2008, a total of 8,805 ballots were cast, accounting for 41.66 percent of the registered voters in the county at the time.

Lohrman said she hopes more come out to vote in November.

"Each individual person's vote does matter," she said. "Whenever they're not engaged, it doesn't help to solve the problems."

Jacobs said he believed the turnout for the general election in November would be much higher.

"It will be a lot better," he said. "Locally, you'll have races. Pretty much every race is contested in the general (election)."

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