Election notebook: Same old story, Bloomington voter turnout is one for the ages

It’s the custom of Monroe County clerk Nicole Browne to send out hourly updates over the course of Election Day.

The May 2, 2023 municipal primary was no different. One of Browne’s updates included this note: “I tried to find the oldest voter who has participated in this municipal election…and, so far, she appears to be 99 years young.”

Browne’s update continued: “Her 100th birthday will be this summer and I want to acknowledge her making the concerted effort to vote.”

The B Square has now confirmed—based on the voter history file provided by county election staff—that it was a 99-year-old who was the most senior voter to cast a ballot in person, on Primary Election Day.

But that nonagenarian wasn’t the absolute oldest person to vote in the primary. After expanding the pool to include those who voted early—either in-person or with a mailed-in ballot, it was a 101-year-old living in the Bloomington 22 precinct, who earned the “absolute oldest” distinction.

On the other end of the spectrum was a 17-year-old living in the Perry 15 precinct, who was the youngest to vote in the May 2 primary. She will celebrate her 18th birthday eight days before the Nov. 7 general election. (In Indiana, it’s possible to vote in a primary, if you turn 18 by the time the general election takes place.)

What about all the other voters in between? How old were they? Continue reading “Election notebook: Same old story, Bloomington voter turnout is one for the ages”

Monroe County election board debriefs on day at the polls, provisional ballots to be reviewed June 12

Thursday afternoon, two days after the June 2 primary election, Monroe County’s election board reviewed how things went on Election Day, under the accommodations made to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

They also reviewed the accommodations that were made as required under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which includes ADA compliance.

For this election at least, the seven polling sites got good marks from disabilities activist Randy Paul. Cones with disability placards were set up to mark off parking spaces closest to whichever entrance that was being used for polling.  And temporary ramps were installed in some locations, like a low curb at Grandview Elementary School.

According to the unofficial cumulative results, 26,791 (27.53 percent) of 97,325 registered voters cast a ballot on Tuesday. That’s fewer, numerically and percentage-wise, than for the 2016 primary, when 38,326 (35.32 percent) of 108,517 registered voters turned out. Continue reading “Monroe County election board debriefs on day at the polls, provisional ballots to be reviewed June 12”

Analysis: Small, older batch of voters will decide Bloomington municipal elections this year

The headline for this piece is unlikely to surprise anyone with just a scant knowledge of local Bloomington politics or national election trends.

Labeled R Map 2019 Bloomington City ElectionsDistrictRepsxxxx
Shown are the two districts where Bloomington city elections will be held on Nov. 5 this year, with the names of candidates who will appear on the ballot. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Still, it’s worth adding some precision to some general ideas.  Bloomington’s quadrennial municipal elections—held the year before presidential contests—attract few voters. And those who do vote are older than average.

Based on turnout in past years, I think maybe 1,500 voters will participate in Bloomington’s Nov. 5 elections. That’s about 3 percent of city voters in the registered voter file provided by the Monroe County election supervisor’s office in early July.

Based on participation in past elections, more than half of those 1,500 voters will be older than 60. That’s almost three decades older than the average registered voter in Bloomington.

It’s unfair, of course, to compare an estimated maximum of 1,500 voters this November to the number of registered voters in all of Bloomington. That’s because elections will be held in just two of six city council districts this year. The other four district seats on the city council are uncontested. Also uncontested are races for all city-wide offices—mayor, city clerk and member-at-large city council seats.

Adjusting for just the roughly 16,000 registered voters in District 2 and District 3 combined, an estimated maximum turnout of 1,500 works out to around 9 percent. That doesn’t add up to a point of civic pride.

For District 2, my working estimate for maximum turnout is about 500 voters. I think if one of the two candidates gets more than 250 votes, that will be enough to win the seat. For District 3, I don’t think the turnout will be more than about 1,000 voters. I think if any of the three candidates gets more than 375 votes, that will be enough to win.

For both districts, I think the average age of voters this November will be older than 60.

After the jump, I’ll lay out the numbers behind those estimates. Continue reading “Analysis: Small, older batch of voters will decide Bloomington municipal elections this year”