INDIANAPOLIS — Just 1 in 5 registered Hoosier voters cast a ballot last month in the Republican and Democratic primary elections, according to data released Wednesday by the Indiana secretary of state.
The 20 percent voter turnout was an increase compared to the 13 percent participation rate tallied in 2014 at the most recent state primary election without a presidential race on the ballot.
State records show primary election turnout was 21 percent in the 2010 midterms, 20 percent in 2006 and 22 percent in 2002.
This year, 870,336 ballots were cast in the May 8 races that included a hotly contested Republican U.S. Senate primary won by former state Rep. Mike Braun, R-Jasper.
Eighty percent of those ballots were marked on Election Day, while 20 percent were submitted through either early or absentee voting.
Northwest Indiana's voter participation rate was slightly less than the state as a whole.
Lake County turnout was 17 percent, Porter County 14 percent and LaPorte County 16 percent, according to the secretary of state.
However, nearby Newton County at 22 percent, and Jasper County at 26 percent, exceeded the statewide turnout share.
The state's highest turnout — 57 percent — was recorded in Jay County. The northeast Indiana locale on the Ohio border had numerous contested races on its ballot.
Only 1 in 10 registered voters participated in Evansville and surrounding Vanderburgh County in southwestern Indiana, the lowest turnout in the state.
Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson said candidates and issues largely drive turnout in midterm elections.
"Contested statewide and county races across the state brought voters from both parties out in significant numbers, and thanks to the preparations made by clerks and election administrators in all 92 counties, Indiana’s reputation for safe and efficient elections continues," Lawson said.