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Indiana's Spike In Early Voting Doesn't Necessarily Mean Record Turnout

Voters lined up in Perry Township

More than 1.7 million Hoosiers voted early this year, nearly double the previous record. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

More than 1.7 million Hoosiers have cast their ballots early this election – that’s nearly double the number who voted early in 2016.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean turnout this year will be much higher than usual.

Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue University-Fort Wayne, said the 2020 election has been, understandably, strange – and that extends to the huge spike in early voting.

It’s driven in part by state leaders encouraging people to vote early, thus avoiding long lines on Election Day amid the pandemic. In some counties – notably Marion County, the state's largest – that hasn't been the case. Lines have been hours long at many polling places.

READ MORE: Can I Vote By Mail? Here's What You Need To Know For Indiana's Elections

But he said huge early voting numbers don’t necessarily tell us what overall turnout will be like.

“We know from a lot of research that people who vote early tend to be people who have voted in previous elections," Down said. "So, in other words, they were going to turn out whether it was Election Day only or not … I hate to say it – and I hope people prove me wrong – I don’t think we’ve seen enough yet to say there’s going to be record turnout in the 65 to 70 percentage range.”

Fifty-eight percent of registered Hoosier voters cast a ballot in each of the last two presidential elections.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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