Another viewpoint editorial: Primary results set up competitive 2024 election

Terre Haute Tribune-Star

Indiana gives Hoosiers too many reasons to be nonvoters. May’s Indiana primary reaffirmed that reality.

The state was among the first to require a photo ID to vote. Residents must provide a qualifying reason to vote absentee by mail. The deadline to register as a voter ends 29 days before Election Day, which is the time period average people start paying attention to political campaigns. Early voting opportunities are helpful, but those waiting until Election Day will find the polls close by 6 p.m. on those Tuesdays. Indiana’s congressional and state legislature districts are so gerrymandered — drawn by sitting state legislators to favor the ruling party — that races for those elected offices often go uncontested, squelching voter interest.

As a result, voter turnouts in Indiana have been among the nation’s weakest.

And Vigo County’s turnouts have ranked near the bottom among Indiana counties for much of the 21st century.

A total of 13,773 Vigo Countians cast ballots in the Indiana primary, which concluded Tuesday. That amounts to 19.96% of the county’s 69,017 registered voters. The statewide turnout will not be calculated for a couple weeks, but most localities reported turnouts between 20% and 25%, the Indiana Capital Chronicle reported. (Just 17.75% of registered voters in Bartholomew County cast ballots — the lowest turnout in the county for a presidential primary since at least 1960, The Republic’s Andy East reported.)

The small sampling of voters involved in the 2024 Vigo County primary etched the Republican and Democratic nominees onto the November general election ballot. The choices assembled mark a fairly competitive contest for local offices, slightly more lopsided matchups on the state level and a tight, heated presidential race between incumbent President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Good choices exist in statewide races. Voters can choose Indiana’s next governor between Trump-endorsed Republican Mike Braun, Indiana’s one-term U.S. senator, and former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick. Braun, a wealthy businessman, promises to expand entrepreneurism in Indiana. McCormick won the superintendent’s position as a Republican but irritated party leaders with her independence and became a Democrat who supports more accessible childcare and universal pre-kindergarten for Hoosier kids.

Federal offices include challengers for open seats. Vying for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Braun will be equally Trump-ish U.S. Rep. Jim Banks and Valerie McCray, a clinical psychologist and Indiana’s first Black female major-party nominee for senate. The 8th District congressional race pits Jasper conservative state legislator Mark Messmer against movie theater manager Erik Hurt, the Democrat.

And, of course, Biden and Trump are rematched in the presidential race, with issues like preserving democracy, reducing healthcare costs, strengthening Social Security and immigration policies on the line.

If you are a regular voter, help a nonvoting friend or acquaintance register and get to the polls this fall. Every voice matters.