Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Co-Director of Indiana Election Division Spins Disingenous Nonsense About Indiana's Supposed Falling Turnout Rate

In an op-ed piece appearing in Nuvo, newly appointed Co-Director of the Indiana Election Division, Democrat Trent Deckard, calls for the defeat of three bills that he says will lead to lower turnout.  My focus here though is on the premise of Deckard's opposition, a premise that is pure BS:
It wasn't so long ago that Indiana voters consistently turned out at the polls, even in mid-
Trent Deckard
term and municipal elections.   
However, last November, barely 30 percent of Hoosiers who were registered to vote actually cast a ballot on Election Day, ranking Indiana at the bottom for turnout nationwide.   
This trend is no accident: as a state, we've made it much more difficult to vote, creating barriers where we could have been opening doors. The result over the past 25 years is a sharp decline in the number of people participating in the democratic process.
What Deckard spouts is complete nonsense.  In 1988, 53.6% of Indiana's adult population voted.  In 2012, also a presidential election year it was 54.3%, an increase despite Deckard's claims of obstacles.  Real turnout increased, not decreased despite Deckard's claim of the enactment of barriers to voting.  But why did official turnout figures drop?  In 1988, 69.6% of the Hoosier adult population (or 2,866,334 people) were registered.  By 2012, 92.9% of the Hoosier adult population (or 4,555,257 people) was registered.  In that 24 year period, while there was a 19% increase in population, there was a 59% increase in registrations. 

Did Hoosiers suddenly become more civic minded about registering to vote, but not so civic minded to use their registrations to vote.    No what happened is that changes implemented by the National Voter Registration Act (Motor Voter) passed in 1993 made it much more difficult to purge non-voters.  Indiana has led the country in failing to clean up its voter registration rolls and Deckard's Election Division and various county clerks have been the subject of litigation for that failure.  As a result, Hoosier voter registration rolls are bloated with deceased voters and those who are registered at multiple locations.  For that reason, and that reason alone, is why turnout (which is figured by voters divided by registrations) is going down.

Deckard uses the turnout of 2014 in his article.  Looking at mid-term elections, the same pattern is shown as presidential elections when you look at the adult population. The turnout has stayed steady over the years. While the turnout was down a bit in 2014, it almost certainly was due to the lack of a major contest on the ballot.  Midterm elections without a major contest have lower turnout than those which do feature those contests.  That's not a surprise.

What is a surprise though is how disingenuous Deckard's article is.  The stats I've recounted in this response are well-known to him.  Instead of debating the three bills on their merits, he decided to dishonestly claim that Indiana's decreased turnout rate is due to "obstacles" when they're obviously a result of grossly inflated registration numbers.

Last month I wrote in more detail on this subject.  A greater exploration of the turnout figures is contained in that article.

1 comment:

Nicolas Martin said...

And boo to Nuvo for publishing such tripe.