The Midterm elections are next week, but if you live in Indiana, you can vote now. Maybe you have already.

In our state, the polls actually open up four calendar weeks before Election Day. Many states have similar early voting periods, although most are shorter than Indiana’s. A good number of them also have an absentee ballot system in which residents can cast their vote by mail (Indiana does not have this).

Ostensibly, early voting is held to give citizens plenty of time to cast their ballot. But does it actually increase turnout in states compared to states in which polls are only open on Election Day?

The numbers say no.

Historically, Presidential elections have a turnout rate somewhere between 50 or 60 percent, and Midterms around 40 percent. There are a few outlier states with higher turnout (though still in the 70s, not even close to full turnout), but generally each state’s turnout hovers around the total rate, regardless of what early voting systems they have. Indiana’s early voting period is on the longer side compared to many states, but turnout in the 2012 election was only 56 percent, ranked 40th among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

In the last Midterm, which saw a 42 percent turnout, most counties in Indiana actually saw more than that, in the higher 40s or even 50s. Lake County, however, only saw a 37 percent turnout. And that was actually a high point since the turn of the millennium, as the 2006 and 2002 Midterms didn’t even crack 30 percent.

Speculations can be made as to why this is, but the numbers are a little pathetic.

If you want to help raise that statistic this election, don't forget to vote next Tuesday. Or if you want to vote before then, here’s some information how.

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