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West Lafayette primary’s cost: $33 per vote
Voter interest was low in single-race primary May 2, making the per-vote cost high, according to figures from the Election Board certification. Plus, Stamp Out Hunger food drive, at your mailbox today
Expenses for the May 2 West Lafayette primary, an election that drew a mere 3.7% of the city’s registered voters to the polls for a single city council race, will be around $28,000 once everything is counted, according to figures presented to the Tippecanoe County Election Board Friday.
That bill works out to be $33 for each of the 847 votes cast on May 2 and the two weeks of early voting leading up to Election Day. (That’s $1.24 for each of the 22,489 registered voters eligible in the primary.)
“As we know, during the early voting, we didn’t have a lot of turnout,” Tippecanoe County Clerk Julie Roush, a member of the Election Board, said during a meeting to certify results 10 days after the primary. “But we still had to have polls available. If we do this again, I would say we don’t need five vote centers (on election day). … We overdid it there.”
The May 2 election had four Democrats seeking three at-large seats on the West Lafayette City Council, meaning they represent the entire city. Iris O’Donnell Bellisario, along with incumbents James Blanco and David Sanders, ran 1, 2 and 3. Gerald Thomas, a four-term incumbent on the city council, finished fourth, 12 votes behind Sanders.
O’Donnell Bellisario, Blanco and Sanders will be on the November general election ballot. No Republican, Libertarian or independent candidates have filed to run for the three at-large seats.
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Election officials saw some of this coming, given the lack of competitive races in play in May’s municipal elections. They trimmed early voting from 28 days to 14 days. During that time, 273 people voted.
Polls were limited on Election Day to West Lafayette.
Election officials had similar situations in Lafayette in the past two municipal primaries, where three Democratic incumbents faced challenges in 2015 and 2019. Both of those primaries had turnouts of less than 5%. In 2015, for example, 1,698 Lafayette Democrats pulled primary ballots in an election that cost roughly $25,000. The bill for that one worked out to be $14.72 per ballot.
Tippecanoe County’s past two general elections worked out to be $3.05 per vote, with 72,468 ballots cast, in 2020 (at 61 cents per registered voter at the time); and $2.43 per vote, with 39,932 ballots cast in 2022 (at 78 cents per registered voter), based on data kept by the League of Women Voters of Greater Lafayette.
Among the details about the May 2 primary, presented to the Election Board on Friday:
Polling places: Roush said her staff learned a few things about vote center locations that would be applied to the November election, as election officials continue to gear up for what is expected to be a large turnout in the 2024 presidential-year election. The top spot on May 2 was the new West Lafayette Wellness Center, which replaced the West Lafayette Fire Station No. 3, right across Kalberer Road. She called it “a hit,” with better parking. Connection Point Church, 2541 Cumberland Ave., drew just seven voters on Election Day. Roush said the first use of the Black Cultural Center, 1100 Third St., at Purdue didn’t have a big turnout – 46 ballots on May 2 – but she said the site worked well on Election Day, looking ahead to 2024 when students would vote in large numbers.
Heaviest and lightest turnouts: Speaking of Purdue students, there were 16 total votes in the Purdue area, across seven precincts, according to Roush. Two precincts – Wabash 22 and Wabash 23, which are along Mitch Daniels Boulevard, had zero voters. The highest turnout, with 19.5%, was in Wabash 27, which includes parts of Northwestern Heights and Hills and Dales neighborhoods.
What’s next: The local parties in Lafayette and West Lafayette have until the first week in July to slate candidates to fill open slots on the ballot for the November municipal election. Independent candidates could emerge by then, too. Here’s how the ballot shapes up, after Tuesday’s primary, in West Lafayette and Lafayette.
Check your registration: Go to the Secretary of State’s portal at www.indianavoters.com.
AT YOUR MAILBOX SATURDAY: STAMP OUT HUNGER CAMPAIGN
Saturday is the National Association of Letter Carriers’ annual Stamp Out Hunger campaign, picking up bags of nonperishable food at mailboxes across the country, including in Greater Lafayette. Food donations collected by the Letter Carriers Branch 466 in Greater Lafayette will go directly to Food Finders Food Bank for distribution to its partner agencies in and around Tippecanoe County.
According to Food Finders, the most wanted food items include canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, canned and boxed meals, peanut butter, baking items, pasta, beans, rice, cereal and 100% fruit juice (canned, plastic or boxed).
To donate, leave a sturdy bag of nonperishable food items next to the mailbox for pickup with regular delivery Saturday.
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