Midterm election turnout surpasses previous years


More Dubois County residents voted by absentee ballot in the 2018 general election than those who voted in person.

Also, the number of people voting in a midterm was higher for 2018 than in previous midterms.

Statewide, the 2018 midterm election saw some of the highest voter turnout numbers for a midterm election, which is traditionally known to have low voter turnout. Indiana’s 2018 voter turnout rate was 51 percent, which was significantly more than the 30 percent turnout in the 2014 midterm and the 41 percent in 2010. The 2018 turnout rate was the highest it has been for a midterm election since 1994, at which there was a turnout rate of 54.1 percent.

In Dubois County, 58 percent of the voting population, 17,328 people, voted in last year’s general election. Of that number, 9,193 people, 53 percent, voted by absentee ballot.

That was more than the last midterm election, in 2014. For that general election, 11,287 people reported to the polls, 38 percent. The total number of people voting absentee was 2,458, or 22 percent.

In the 2016 general election, which was a presidential election, 50 percent of Dubois County voters chose an absentee ballot; a total of 66 percent of eligible voters voted in that election.

The number of absentee ballots cast increased in the late 2000s. Earlier than that, state rules dictated that a person had to have a reason for wanting to vote absentee. In those times, the percentage of absentee votes in Dubois County was low, from 4 percent in 1990 to as high as 10 percent in 2004

After the 2006 general election, which was at 9 percent, the percentage of absentee ballots cast stayed in the double digits. Those percentages were 29 percent for 2008, 16 percent for 2010, 42 percent for 2012, 22 percent for 2014, 50 percent for 2016 and 53 percent in 2018.

Analysts at the Indiana Business Research Center, located at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, attribute 2018’s high voter turnout to the saturation of political ads and discussion about the 2018 midterm campaign season.

Analysts also said that the purging of Indiana’s voter rolls between the 2014 and 2018 midterms, to remove people who were no longer eligible voters, also had an effect. Postcards were used to verify home addresses and to confirm that voter lists were updated. The process resulted in the removal of nearly 500,000 registered voters from voter rolls. Because of that, there were fewer registered voters in 2018 than in 2014, analysts said.

The United States Elections Project reported that 50.3 percent of registered voters in the United States cast their ballot in 2018, the highest turnout rate for a midterm election since 1914’s rate of 50.4 percent. The turnout rate was 36.7 percent for the 2014 midterm and 41 percent for 2010 midterm.

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