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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

2020 Year in Review: Elections brought record voter turnout

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In 2020 fashion, election night — and the days leading up to it — were anything but ordinary. COVID-19 fears led many Hoosiers to vote early, as no-excuse absentee voting was not an option during the general election in Indiana. 

Marion County residents broke voter turnout records set in 2016. Throughout the first nine days of early voting, which started Oct. 6, 13,206 county residents cast a ballot, according to the Marion County Clerk’s Office. That was nearly 10,000 more votes than in the same period in 2008 and 5,000 more than in 2016. Marion County had a 58% voter turnout in 2020, up 5 percentage points from 2016.

“This vote is not only gonna affect myself personally, but it’s gonna affect everyone else,” Anthony McCloud told the Recorder as he waited in a long line for early voting at the City-County Building.

Russell Hollis, deputy director for the Marion County Clerk’s Office, cited excitement from voters for the increase in turnout and the fact that many voters didn’t want to wait to cast their ballot during an unpredictable pandemic.

Others weathered the cold because they wanted to be a part of change.

“I think some people are just tired,” Samantha Asberry said as she stood in an early voting line with her daughter. “They want some leadership.”

Despite frustrations from some voters, the state did not allow no-excuse absentee voting for the general election. Marion County mailed absentee ballot applications to all registered voters ahead of the June primary, but delays and limited resources meant many voters didn’t get to return their ballots to the clerk’s office in time to be counted, and some who applied never received a ballot. The clerk’s office said 1,781 absentee ballots went uncounted.

Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge expressed her concerns in a letter to Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson eight days before Election Day, but Lawson said the county didn’t adequately prepare for the election.

Nationally, absentee and early voting numbers were at an all-time high, which delayed the vote count in the presidential election between incumbent President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Despite claims of election fraud from the Trump camp, Biden and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris made history by receiving more votes than any other ticket in history on their way to an Electoral College victory. Harris made history by being elected the first female vice president and the first Black vice president-elect.

Despite Indiana’s high early voting turnout, election results in the state were available well before the weekend.

By 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3, the Associated Press projected incumbent Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb as the winner of the Indiana gubernatorial race, beating Democratic challenger Dr. Woody Myers by roughly 27 percentage points. Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater garnered 12% of the vote, making him one of the most successful third-party candidates to ever run for governor in Indiana. 

“Ain’t it great to be a Hoosier,” Holcomb said following his victory. “… We have so much work to do, and I am flat-out eager to continue to get it done with you over the next four like we’ve done the last four.”

Following the election, Myers — the only African American in the country to run for governor in 2020 — told the Recorder he was happy with his campaign and how they were able to address issues such as COVID-19. 

“I’m very proud of the team we put together and the way we addressed the important issues,” Myers said. “I’m proud of the policies we put out for the people of the state. I’m proud of how we stood up for individuals at the bottom of the economic ladder, and I’m proud of what we did to engage the current administration for their failed coronavirus response.”

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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