News From Terre Haute, Indiana

News

May 7, 2014

MARK BENNETT: Like other Indiana counties, Vigo struggles with voter apathy

TERRE HAUTE — Vigo Countians who trekked to the new voting centers, who endured long lines at a couple of popular sites, and who learned to use the new touch-screen machines displayed solid civic spirit in Tuesday’s primary election.

The changes to the system showed promise, despite some first-time complications, particularly the frustrating waits at two centers. With adjustments, the November general election could run smoother.

Tuesday’s long lines were a paradox.

Most adults in Vigo County didn’t vote. Just 16.6 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Midterm primaries — those without a presidential race — traditionally draw fewer people to the polls. This year’s primary cleared that low bar like a double-jointed limbo player. The local turnout was lower than any in, at least, the past 28 years, according to county statistics cited in Tribune-Star archives. A total of 12,721 people voted in this primary. By comparison, the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza brings in an estimated crowd of 15,000 (albeit many out-of-towners) every August.

Vigo County is far from alone, though.

In fact, this community generated a greater percentage of voters than many other Indiana counties.

Turnouts around the state were breathtakingly poor: Howard County (home to Kokomo), 9.4 percent; Johnson County (Franklin), 9.1; Dubois County (Jasper), 6.5; and St. Joseph County (South Bend), 6.48.

6.48 percent.

Several others had worse turnouts than Vigo, including LaPorte, Hamilton, Tippecanoe and Grant counties. Some counties that shifted to voting centers — where people can vote at any site, instead of being limited to their home precinct poll — had higher turnouts than Vigo and some were lower, said David Crockett, Vigo County Clerk.

“We didn’t have a super turnout, but we had a better turnout than some,” Crockett said.

The reasons are myriad. In Indiana primaries, voters take either a Republican or Democratic ballot and choose the party’s nominees for various offices for the fall general election. This year, several offices were uncontested, including more than two dozen on each party’s ticket in Vigo County. In some cases, no candidates have filed at all, setting up the lackluster possibility of an uncontested fall race.

Randy Gentry, chairman of the Vigo County Republican Party, expects some of the GOP vacancies to be filled in the coming weeks through the caucus process. “There’s a lot of interest [from prospective candidates],” Gentry said Wednesday afternoon, “and we’ll do our best to fill the spots and give everybody a choice.”

The Democratic Party had no candidates on the ballot for Tuesday’s primary in the typically high-profile Vigo County Prosecutor position. Party chairman Joe Etling said Wednesday that some attorneys inquired about running earlier this year “but elected not to pursue the office.” Etling said the party may field a candidate by fall, adding, “We’ll continue to do all we can to keep our ticket full.”

Apathy and empty ballots indeed play a role, but Indiana can do more to foster an atmosphere of civic engagement at election time. The addition of voting centers, online registration and early voting opportunities have improved the state’s weak record of voter accessibility. Its voter registration rate ranks 42nd (near the bottom) in the country, and its turnouts rank 40th, according to last month’s Election Performance Index issued by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Those statistics need to be changed. More Hoosiers from every background, not just the politically astute, should be encouraged to join in the process.

One avenue would be to adopt election-day registration, like Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota, among others. Currently, Indiana closes its voter registration 29 days before an election — well before most people start paying attention to the races. The law dates back to 1913 and 1925 and is unnecessary in this technological age. This year’s deadline was April 7. Already under the present system, someone could register that day and within a few days cast a ballot through early voting, which began April 8 this year. The 29-days-before-the-election deadline is antiquated and an unneeded barrier. Plus, Indiana’s law requiring a photo ID to vote makes election-day registration doable.

The Indiana Legislature should consider extending the poll-closing time on election day to 7 p.m. from the present 6 p.m., and consider moving elections to Saturdays instead of Tuesdays.

Low voter participation is a problem that needs to be addressed in multiple ways. Whether the most significant cause is disinterest, a lack of candidates, disgust with political polarization or restrictive voting laws, Tuesday’s turnouts around Indiana cast a wonderful state in a poor light.

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or mark.bennett@tribstar.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
  • MET073114griffin markers.jpg Trail blazers

    Blake Griffin remembers when he and his brother, Dale, would ride their bikes along wooded trails in the wilderness area of Fowler Park.

    July 31, 2014 7 Photos

  • Officials say city ‘overspent’

    Two Terre Haute councilmen told the Taxpayers Association of Vigo County Thursday they think the city is overspending, but they gave no solutions to reduce expenses.

    July 31, 2014

  • MET073114sinkhole korenski.jpg Block downtown to close for repairs

    A sinkhole is forcing the temporary closure of a major downtown street beginning Monday.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 012312 MICK NEWPORT.jpg Wave of retirees at Vigo schools

    Valarie Bailey has worked for the Vigo County School Corp. for 26 years in roles that included at-risk counselor, school social worker, assistant student services director and curriculum coordinator.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fire house to fire dept.

    A legal battle has been resolved to restore ownership of the community fire station in Fayette Township.

    July 31, 2014

  • Road Closings

    14th Street, from Oak to Poplar streets, will be closed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 9 for Friends and Family Weekend.

    July 31, 2014

  • August Fire Safety Tip

    Monthly safety hint — Barbeque/grilling safety

    July 31, 2014

  • MET 073014 WESTMINISTER DIG.jpg Expanding independence

    Westminster Village, a Terre Haute retirement community, is investing $1.8 million to construct 12 new villa homes, officials announced Wednesday.

    July 30, 2014 5 Photos

  • Decades later, dry cleaners leave blemish

    Fifty years ago, about 30 dry cleaners did business in the city of Terre Haute. City officials are now cleaning up the mess some left behind.

    July 30, 2014 1 Story

  • MARK BENNETT: Year of River sets example for state

    Terre Haute pays more attention to the Wabash River these days.

    July 30, 2014

  • Climate of less regulation, more chemical spills leaves ‘historical pollution,’ NCA director says

    Former dry cleaning sites are an environmental problem all over the state, according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

    July 30, 2014 1 Story

  • MET073014parks bbushee.jpg Camping turnout low for first half of summer

    Camping revenue for the past two months has dropped in Vigo County parks, a downturn park officials say is difficult to attribute to a new park policy limiting campers’ stays to 14 days in the three county parks.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 073014 DESTROYED.jpg Devastating fire takes out mobile home

    A Seelyville mobile home sustained heavy damage in a fire early Wednesday morning.
    Lost Creek Township firefighters were called to the scene in the 2200 block of Tabortown Road south of U.S. 40 at about 2 a.m.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • Man posts bond after fatal wreck

    An Oct. 7 trial date has been set for a Terre Haute man accused of driving while intoxicated causing death.

    July 30, 2014 3 Stories

  • Driver injured, airlifted, cited for failure to yield

    An elderly woman was injured in a crash Wednesday afternoon in Sullivan County, according to Indiana State Police.

    July 30, 2014

  • MET072914leo screen.jpg Slick’s debut

    Bobby “Slick” Leonard was the main attraction but his hometown, Terre Haute, was constantly in the background as friends, fans and family gathered in Indianapolis Tuesday night to honor the man famous for the words “Boom Baby.”

    July 29, 2014 8 Photos

  • MET 072914 TAJIMI YANASE.jpg Sister-city students get a dose of ‘new culture’

    One of Juri Sawada’s dreams has been to visit America.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Motion delays trial for 2012 homicide

    A man who has been jailed about 20 months in connection with the homicide of his wife will not go on trial next week as scheduled.

    July 29, 2014

  • Sheriff charged in prostitution case

    Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden has spent more than 30 years in law enforcement working to protect the public from criminals, but on Tuesday he was treated as one.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • maple candy closeup.jpg Vigo Parks dishing out the sweetness

    Vigo County Parks and Recreation has made a “sweet” addition to its maple syrup production at Prairie Creek Park.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Danny Rodden indicted on federal charges

    Instead of overseeing the operations of the Clark County jail and police force Tuesday, Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden found himself being transported by the FBI to Indianapolis to answer federal charges.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • Woman’s condition ‘fair’ after grocery store wreck

    A Terre Haute woman was listed in fair condition Tuesday at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis as the result of injuries sustained in Monday’s accident on the Baesler’s Market parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Semi driver cited for alcohol use

    A commercial vehicle driver has been placed out of service after he tested positive for alcohol consumption during a Tuesday morning traffic stop in Sullivan County.

    July 29, 2014

  • Church to give out school backpacks

    United Methodist Temple will stage its first-ever Back-2-School Bash from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 9.
    The church is located at 5301 S. U.S. 41.

    July 29, 2014

  • MET 072814 BUS MEYERROSE.jpg Bus safety features

    New safety features on South Vermillion School Corp. buses have led to fewer disciplinary problems and fewer incidents of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses, officials say.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Pendergast.jpg Humvee driver says foot caused fatal accident

    Kyle Pendergast, 22, the Terre Haute driver of a black Humvee charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing the death of a teenager, has told police he could not turn the wheel before the vehicle flipped in a field in an early Saturday morning accident.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • MET 072814 CONTAMINATED Cleaner may have contaminated water

    Groundwater and soil testing is set to begin within a week to learn whether toxic chemicals might have seeped into the wells of a small southside neighborhood and even beyond.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Housing Authority’s Warren Village nearing completion

    Construction on the newest Terre Haute Housing Authority property – Warren Village – should wrap up next month, a housing authority official said Monday.

    July 29, 2014

  • rush-hr.jpg Observers predict ‘wide open’ process of picking next chief

    State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson surprised observers in June when he decided to step down after a brief tenure as the state’s top judge.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Multi-vehicle accident in parking lot

    A woman was hospitalized with injuries after a multiple-vehicle accident late Monday morning in the Baesler’s Market parking lot on Poplar Street

    July 29, 2014

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine US, UN Announce Deal on Gaza Cease-Fire LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene
NDN Video
Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity
Real Estate News