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Friday, Feb. 23
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion politics

OPINION: Midterm participation has been historically low, but these elections are still important


With the midterm elections coming up fast at the beginning of May, I always found it difficult to find everyone who's running for local office. Governments should prioritize presenting this kind of information to make voting easier for everyone, encourage higher levels of participation and support a healthy democracy.

Through my coursework studying voter participation, we've discussed public participation in voting and elections. My professor recently presented research breaking down Americans into two distinct groups: the attentive and inattentive public. These two groups have very different characteristics when it comes to voting.

The attentive public includes citizens displaying higher rates of political awareness and participation. Politicians often pay more attention to this group because it is where a larger proportion of their votes and support generally comes from. Conversely, the ladder group shows depressing rates of participation and awareness, often choosing to opt-out of politics and voting altogether.

Another common issue is that often, voters are seeing candidates' names on the ballot for the first time — many of which they might not even recognize. The concept of name recognition is prevalent in political science, and if voters know nothing else about a candidate, they'll vote for a name they've seen potentially once or twice before on a yard sign.

These are fundamental flaws in our voting institution. Governments should prioritize highlighting all running candidates to encourage voting and facilitate a healthy, participatory democracy. In order to make an informed decision, voters should have access to information regarding candidates and their platforms well before being handed a ballot.

To make this process a bit easier, the names of all candidates you will see on your primary ballot are listed below. Primary elections are preliminary elections where voters choose who will be their party's nominee before the general election. Because of state law, Indiana has a closed primary system in which voters must request a ballot for either the Democratic or Republican candidates and can only vote in one. 

Early voting options are still available as well. Voters can go to the Monroe County Election Operations building at 302 S. Walnut St. from April 23 through May 2 at varying times.

Primaries are just as important as general elections. This is the only time to decide which primary candidate will represent your party in the general election. This choice is just as important as the choice you make in the general election since one of these candidates may implement or change policies which affect your day-to-day life.

Sean Gilley (he/him) is a senior studying political science and economics with a certificate in informatics.

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