Voter Turnout: 2011 Primary Election

By Scott Sarvay
By Maureen Mespell

May 3, 2011 Updated May 3, 2011 at 10:51 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - Voters in Indiana and Ohio are heading to the polls Tuesday, to cast their ballots in municipal elections but voter turnout is expected to be low.

Few people were waiting to cast their ballots at precincts across the viewing area. Historically, voter turnout in municipal primary elections is extremely low.

In fact, in Allen County in 2007, about 26,000 registered voters in Allen County, or about 14-percent of the populous, cast their ballots.

More than 600 early votes were cast in Allen County in the month leading up to Tuesday's election.

One of the most highly-watched and contested races in the area is in the Republican Primary for Fort Wayne Mayor.

And the prospect of low voter turnout is not discouraging the three candidates from last-minute campaigning.

According to a recent poll by the "Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics," At-Large City Councilwoman Liz Brown leads her competitors by several percentage points.

But she's not taking anything for granted.

Brown says, “We have a lot of volunteers out, there are about 100 out at the polls right now. Every little bit counts. Sometimes people still haven't made up their minds, so the last minute can make a difference.”

The most endorsed of the three Republican Fort Wayne Mayoral Candidates, Former-County Council President Paula Hughes tells Indiana’s NewsCenter city leadership needs work and she's put in the effort to convince voters to make a change.

We caught up with her at the Aboite Baptist Church as she talked with voters about her platform.

Hughes says, “We've made over 45,000 phone calls in our phone banks, and so I think people that are coming to vote know they have a specific candidate they want to support. They know what they're going to do by the time they get here, and we hope they're voting for Paula Hughes.”

The third Republican candidate for Fort Wayne Mayor, businessman Eric Doden, cast his vote at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church on Vance Avenue.

A political novice, Doden is campaigning on a platform of streamlining government to help businesses move here and create jobs.

Doden says, “Jobs and wages have been a clear concern and rightfully so. I think it is our primary issue that we have to deal with in Fort Wayne, and I really think that is how people are going to vote today. And of course, we have a detailed plan to do that, and with my business background, the executive experience to get it done.”

Brown and Hughes voted early.

On the Democratic side of things, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry spent part of the morning with campaign volunteers.

Henry rallied his supporters, by bringing donuts and coffee to the polling place at the Urban League on south Hanna.

The volunteers will spend the day hitting other precincts, encouraging voters to vote for the incumbent mayor who faces a challenge from four other candidates.

Henry said, “We've got to make sure that our city budget remains exactly where it is. It's a balanced budget, it's been a flat budget, and we’ll continue to make sure that the money that the citizens give us to support this city is spent wisely.”

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