According to information from the Indiana Election Division that was published in The Star, less than 11 percent of the registered voters in the Indianapolis metro area voted in the primary this year. There was 13 percent turnout in Lake County, 12 percent in Allen County and 6 percent in Vanderburgh County. When we hear people bemoaning turnout like this, it is interesting to note that we are entering the season when political parties, campaigns and other groups begin voter registration drives in earnest, hoping they can increase turnout by their supporters. It is interesting because voter turnout is calculated by a simple mathematical equation. The number of voters is divided by the number of registered voters. If the number of registered voters is increased, then the number of people voting also has to increase or the turnout percent will decline. People who have been involved in campaigns long enough can remember the days before the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 when registering voters was not as easy as it is today. They also remember the days before the Help America Vote Act of 2002 when purging voter files was done more aggressively, sometimes to the disadvantage of certain groups.
One of the results of changing the registration and purging processes is that there are places with artificially high numbers of registered voters. For example, according to the Bureau of the Census, Marion County had a population of 919,000 in 2012 and 25.2 percent of the people were younger than 18, therefore ineligible to register to vote. That means, at most, there could have been 687,000 registered voters in Marion County in 2012. According to the Indiana Election Division, there were 641,000 registered voters in the county that year. That is a registration rate of 93 percent.
The case in Hamilton County is more interesting. There were 205,000 people old enough to register in 2012, and 202,000 (98.5 percent) were registered. This same simple math shows Indiana had a registration rate of 92 percent. Perhaps Hoosiers are exceptionally civically engaged; unfortunately, what is more likely is that the voter file includes people it should not.
Full Article: Indiana’s voter registration numbers don’t reflect reality.