Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Fort Wayne voter turnout was awful

Fort Wayne voter turnout was around 9%. This is a shameful and pathetic number.
Editor's note: Turnout was actually 12-13%. Apparently there were 8 precincts that did not get reported in a timely fashion due to errors.

Consider this email from Sam Talarico that I am posting with his permission:

During my 8 years on council, there is no doubt that the 2 most controversial issues have been:

1. Harrison Square

2. Smoking Ordinance.

How can we possibly have the lowest voter turnout in history on the heels of these two issues?


I am appalled by the low voter turnout, especially in the Republican Primary. In the Republican Primary there were two good candidates with very different visions for Fort Wayne running for Mayor. Between the two men they spent about $600,000 on advertising. Both had large campaigns and a lot of volunteers. The Mayor's race should have increased turnout.

Sam Talarico has stated that he feels the six Republican candidates for City Council are some of the best qualified in recent history. Five of the six ran strong campaigns. This should have increased turnout.

Harrison Square was passed and is a project that a majority of Republican primary voters oppose. This should have increased turnout.

The smoking ban incensed bar owners and they registed almost 1000 voters in an attempt to oust John Crawford. This should have increased turnout.`

In my opinion turnout should have been much higher.

WOWO interviewed Tracy Warner today and Tracy said something on WOWO that shocked me. He said that he felt Republican turnout was low because:
1. Republicans are upset with the National Republican Party (This is true).
2. He said that Republican voters did not see much difference between Kelty and Peters. I have no idea where he gets this opinion. I think this is one of the most absurd statements I have heard in awhile.

Why do you think turnout was so low?

Mike Sylvester


Danny said...

I think it shows that the thought that the public was wildly opposed to Harrison Square and the Smoking Ban probably isn't very accurate and was blown out of proportion.

This is coming from a smoker who was against a baseball stadium downtown(though I'm for a smoking ban).

Kevin Knuth said...


I think Tracy is right.

You are making a common mistake in disagreeing- the AVERAGE voter does not pay enough attention to the candidates.

Political insiders, even bloggers, keep a much closer eye on the candidates and issues and have a better "feel" for what is going on.

Want to try something fun? Go out and ask your neighbors WHO their COUNTY COUNCILPERSON is. My past tests show that less than 20% will actually know (That is if you live within the city limits).

That simple test will show you that folks just are not paying attention.

Anonymous said...


I will take the UNDER on 20%. I bet you would be hard pressed to find 1 in 20 neighbors who would know their county councilperson's name.

Dave MacDonald said...

Voters are probably disenchanted with LOCAL politicians. I was told* that Dr. Crawford himself indicated that 7 of 10 people with whom he spoke were against the HS project, yet he still voted for it. If true, and local officials vote against the will of the people, what difference does one's vote make? Why bother voting?

*I have been unable to verify Dr. Crawford's statement so this is unconfirmed. However, many voters have expressed this perception, so my opinion remains unchanged.

Indiana Pundit said...

By the way Mike, voter turnout was approximately 12%

Kat Coble said...

The way the Harrison Square business was conducted communicated to the people of Fort Wayne (the ones I'm related to and friends with, that is) that their opinion matters not one jot to their elected representatives.

So why bother adding yet another meaningless errand--voting--to a busy day?

Anonymous said...

It was low because Republican voters did not see much difference between Kelty and Peters

Robert Enders said...

Low turnout in the primaries is not really a bad thing. It simple reflects that not very many voters identify with the two major parties.

Anonymous said...

I came name mine off my head (Darren Vogt), although he has never talked to the constituents in my area. No town halls, no e-mails, nothing! In this day in age with technology, I believe that it should be easy to reach the people you represent, however many do not! Therefore, those who are elected must do there part, as communication is a two-way street. J. Dean

James Fitch said...

The precinct that I worked had a voter turnout about 35%

We had a good stream of voters all day.

One machine had 100 votes

The two machines had 74 and 57 votes

Kody Tinnel said...

I agree that the turnout was pathetic.

But I am more concerned with low turnouts in general elections. That is when we really need to worry about voter apathy.

Jeff Pruitt said...

I think there are more and more things fighting for our time and interest. Many people just don't follow the primary races close enough to make an informed choice so they choose not to vote at all.

Come general election time many more people vote because the choice is easier to define - Republican vs Democrat.

I would continue to expect voter turnout to decline in primary races...

Anonymous said...

The turn out was pathetic, I for one was at the Sonrise United Methodist and traffic was terribly slow.

Reasons (I can't even imagine):
1. People thought that Peters was a shoe in for the primary so didn't bother?
2. Kelty was able to rally young kids along the street and that was good enough even although most weren't old enough to vote?

I really have no good reason why people wouldn't find this important except national vs. local politics, but what really affects people the most?

I once had a professor describe the two as caring about a missile overseas or about roads and the ability to drive around town without worrying about getting your car realigned.

Food for thought!

Anonymous said...

I have no idea who my county councilperson is and I vote in every election. I guess I might have voted for (s)he at one point, but I'll be damned if I can remember.

Tom Didier is my City Councilman.

The Knight of Motley said...

I think the reason you have poor voter turnout is three-fold:

1. The majority of citizens have been trained not to think, only to knee-jerk according to Left vs. Right, Democrat vs. Republican paradigms. Thus, Primaries are "not as important." Unfortunately, this approach not only aggravates the problem but fails to address any sort of reality in this country /state/city.

2. Those who are more aware and more "thinking people" are so disillusioned with voting machine fraud, election fraud, government fraud, etc., that they simply have given up. This approach is growing perhaps exponentially. I don't condone cynicism or fatalism, but I understand it.

3. There are so many people who are working several jobs, raising kids, etc., trying to get through the day in one piece that they simply have no more energy to expend to research all candidates, so they would rather do what meager research they [may never] get to after the primaries. Unfortunately, after the primaries, the candidates are already set; if you don't like any of them, you're too friggin' late.

I voted, but I'm somewhat cynical on city politics. I try to influence my city through my neighborhood as well as the voter's booth. There exists a vast Party machine that I would like to bean betwixt the eyes with a rock from my sling. The giant must die.

Jeff Pruitt said...

I think the Republican voters just did that for you. Of course it remains to be seen if Shine will step down...

Kody Tinnel said...

I think we can all agree that many people don't vote because they are busy and don't like waiting in long lines. Although I generally disagree with most of the excuses people use as to why they do not vote I do believe we could change a few things to make voting less of a hassle.

1) Keep the polls open longer on election day. Perhaps 5am to 8pm. This would give voters a larger window of time to fit voting into their schedules and would partially minimize the morning and evening rushes that potentially cause long lines.

2) Employers should be required to give their employees time to leave work and vote. They could either extend their lunch breaks or let the employees come in slightly later or leave slightly earlier.

I am not sure how much these ideas would affect voter turnout but I don't think they could hurt.

Karen Goldner said...

I've never stood in line for longer than 15 minutes to vote - and usually it's not that long.

However, Kody, I agree that the polls should be open longer, or at least a different 12 hours (7 to 7?) Our current 6-to-6 schedule almost seems designed to discourage participation rather than making it convenient.

Still, I think of voting as something that is my right and duty to do - people have fought and died so that I can vote, and if I can't be bothered with spending 15 minutes twice a year (and not every year, at that) respecting that sacrifice, then shame on me.

And before I get a lot of "your vote doesn't matter" comments - you're talking to someone who usually votes for the Democratic presidential candidate and has always voted in either Indiana or Nebraska - but I vote anyway!

Robert Enders said...

Anyone can file an absentee ballot if they have to work on Election Day. In some jobs, such as security guards, nurses, police, etc. you need someone working around the clock. Employers cannot always grant time off.

Kody Tinnel said...

Many people don't know how exactly to go about voting absentee. Perhaps that information should be more readily available to more people. The current registration and voting systems, as easy as they are, do confuse many people. It isn't exactly something that everyone is taught in school, though it should be.

I thought about jobs that require an employee to be there the entire time. In those cases exceptions could be granted.

Don't get me wrong, I think that the current voting system is easy enough for everyone and there are very few valid reasons for not voting, but this country prides itself on its democracy so why not encourage voting as much as we can?

Robert Enders said...

Kody, think of all the time that the average American spends watching TV every week. It is by far easier to fill out a voter registration card than it is to fill out a job application or a tax form. It takes 30 minutes tops to fill one out.

Some employers do grant the day off, but Election Day is still a day in which the buses need to run, mail needs to be delivered, etc. Giving workers time off to vote will not increase turnout by very much.

Mike Kole said...

With turnout this low, I think the public needs to start thinking of the primary elections as what they are- private, poltical party business- and should start demanding that the parties pay for the even themselves, by shifting it from a primary election (unless there are local issues or non-partisan seats up for grabs) to a party convention.

Karen Goldner said...


I understand your sentiment, but something like 24,000 people voted - very low turnout but still a lot more than would show up for a convention (or, rather, 2 conventions).

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