Wednesday, May 03, 2000

Turnout a whisper in Indiana

Primary draws very few

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — The words “boring” and “Well, just look around you” literally echoed off the wood-panel walls at the Tate Street Youth Center, which on Tuesday served as voting precinct No. 2.

        There was no other way for poll workers to put it. Blue sky or no.

        Voter turnout in this southern edge of Dearborn County, and throughout southeastern Indiana, was light. Reasons varied. Primaries typically draw fewer voters than general elections, especially with the presidential nominations a foregone conclusion. Also, there were few contested statewide races, and in Lawrenceburg, no local issues. The only locally contested race was for school board, and only on the Republican side.

        Indiana's 9th District, which includes Dearborn, had three Democratic and two Republican candidates for Congress.

        “Just snackin' and talkin,'” said poll worker Jerry Vinson. “I don't think there's a subject we haven't gotten to.”

        His fellow senior-citizen poll workers included his wife of 45 years, Muriel, Wanda Kippler, Doris Chalk and Georgia Brush.

        By 4:30 p.m., there had been just 53 votes cast at Precinct 2, and that included 22 absentee ballots. Of the 19 registered 18-year-olds eligible to vote for the first time, none had shown up.

        But for a very simple reason, Larry Dicken did.

        “I just figured if I don't vote, I can't gripe,” the 53-year-old Lawrenceburg man explained. “But I almost forgot today.”

        For an equally simple reason, John Haetter didn't forget. But he also didn't care.

        “Nobody ever runs that I'd vote for,” the 46-year-old Aurora man said. “It doesn't really mean anything. It's a dead issue with me.”

        Mr. Haetter never votes, but Shelby Cummins of Greendale does. Except Tuesday.

        “I don't go for primaries,” he said as he sat in his barber's chair at Shelby's Shear Thing, which he's operated in downtown Lawrenceburg for 25 years.

        “Part of the problem is there's no major issues,” he added. “I don't think they even advertise for primaries anymore, but I'll vote in November.”

        And while many expressed the belief that one vote can't possibly matter, they were surprised to hear about the village of Owensville in Clermont County, Ohio.

        On March 7, a five-year replacement levy, which would have financed street lights and other community improvements, was decided. Only 27 percent of those registered voted.

        The levy lost by one vote.


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