Many contested races, low voter turnout in Tuesday’s Primary Election


Even with a new system of voting and many contested races for both political parties, Tuesday’s Primary Election in Switzerland County saw a low voter turnout overall, as just 24.67-percent of eligible voters – 1,696 out of a possible 6,875 – took the time to cast a ballot.

The county has been using its new traveling voting center system for the primary; with a voting center moving throughout the county for two day periods over the past two weeks. The system is designed to give residents more opportunities to vote, since a voter could go to any center to vote, regardless of whether or not they lived in that area of the county.

Switzerland County Clerk of the Circuit Court Kim Hambrick said that the voting centers, including the single center on Tuesday that was open in Vevay, worked well.

“We’ve had really good response, most people really liked it,” Kim Hambrick said. “Every county in the state is going to be going to this type of voting center system, so it was nice to use it for the primary to see how it works before November.”

The November promises to be a hotly-contested election, with the country electing a new President and the state electing a new Governor. Couple those with a U.S. Senate race; Congressional races; and state legislature and local races, and there will be plenty for voters to consider in the fall.

Because the purpose of the Primary Election is to give each political party the opportunity to choose its slate of candidates for the General Election, there were several non-contested primary races:

– In the race for the office of County Recorder, Democrat incumbent Darla McKay McAlister was unopposed for re-election, and on Tuesday she was the county’s biggest vote recipient, garnering 881 votes.

Currently there is no Republican candidate for the General Election.

– The County Treasurer’s seat will be contested in the Fall. Incumbent Democrat Vickie Bailey James was unopposed in Tuesday’s Primary, and she received 855 votes.

In November she will be challenged by Republican Kay Cook, who was unopposed in Tuesday’s Republican Primary, and received 429 votes.

- Republican incumbent County Surveyor Brian McAllister was unchallenged in Tuesday’s primary, and he received 486 votes. There currently is no Democrat on the ballot in November.

– In the race for the State Representative seat for District 67, a new district for Switzerland County, November’s election will pit Republican Randy Frye against Democrat Tom Cheek. Both were unopposed in the Primary.

Randy Frye currently is the State Representative for District 67; but Switzerland County was not part of the district two years ago when the last election was held. The county was formerly represented by Jud McMillin.

On Tuesday Randy Frye received 493 votes; while Tom Cheek received 701 votes.

– Indiana will have a new Governor in January of 2013, as Mitch Daniels cannot seek a third term.

Democrat John Gregg, former Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, was unopposed in the primary are received 665 votes here on Tuesday.

He will oppose Republican Mike Pence, the current U.S. Congressman from the Sixth Congressional District. He was also unopposed on Tuesday, and received 511 votes.

– The race for the Sixth Congressional District seat in the U.S. Congress, which is being vacated by Mike Pence in his run for Indiana Governor, saw the biggest number of candidates.

In the Republican Primary, Travis Hankins won here with 295 votes; followed by Luke Messer with 89 votes; Don Bates with 88 votes; Bill Frazier with 39 votes; Joe Sizemore with 21 votes; John Hatter with 18 votes; Joseph Van Wye with 13 votes; and Allen Smith with 10 votes.

Districtwide, Luke Messer will be the Republican candidate in November.

For the Democrats, the winner here was Jim Crone with 277 votes; followed by Susan Hall Heitzman with 194; Dan Bolling with 141; Bradley Bookout with 85; and George Holland with 72.

Over the entire District, Bradley Bookout won the primary and will be the Democrat candidate in November.

– In the U.S. Senate race, Republicans trumpeted a changing of the guard, as longtime Senator Richard Lugar was defeated in his attempt to win a seventh term by Richard Mourdock. Here in Switzerland County, Richard Mourdock received 378 votes while Richard Lugar received 235 votes. That margin held up across the state.

Richard Mourdock will now face Joe Donnelly in the General Election in November. He was unopposed in the primary, and garnered 647 votes here in the county.

– President Barack Obama is unchallenged in his bid for a second term, and on Tuesday he received 631 votes here in Switzerland County.

Although the Republican race had four candidates on the ballot, presumed nominee Mitt Romney won here with 376 votes; followed by Rick Santorum with 94; Ron Paul with 90; and Newt Gingrich with 57.