Analysis: Small, older batch of voters will decide Bloomington municipal elections this year

The headline for this piece is unlikely to surprise anyone with just a scant knowledge of local Bloomington politics or national election trends.

Labeled R Map 2019 Bloomington City ElectionsDistrictRepsxxxx
Shown are the two districts where Bloomington city elections will be held on Nov. 5 this year, with the names of candidates who will appear on the ballot. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Still, it’s worth adding some precision to some general ideas.  Bloomington’s quadrennial municipal elections—held the year before presidential contests—attract few voters. And those who do vote are older than average.

Based on turnout in past years, I think maybe 1,500 voters will participate in Bloomington’s Nov. 5 elections. That’s about 3 percent of city voters in the registered voter file provided by the Monroe County election supervisor’s office in early July.

Based on participation in past elections, more than half of those 1,500 voters will be older than 60. That’s almost three decades older than the average registered voter in Bloomington.

It’s unfair, of course, to compare an estimated maximum of 1,500 voters this November to the number of registered voters in all of Bloomington. That’s because elections will be held in just two of six city council districts this year. The other four district seats on the city council are uncontested. Also uncontested are races for all city-wide offices—mayor, city clerk and member-at-large city council seats.

Adjusting for just the roughly 16,000 registered voters in District 2 and District 3 combined, an estimated maximum turnout of 1,500 works out to around 9 percent. That doesn’t add up to a point of civic pride.

For District 2, my working estimate for maximum turnout is about 500 voters. I think if one of the two candidates gets more than 250 votes, that will be enough to win the seat. For District 3, I don’t think the turnout will be more than about 1,000 voters. I think if any of the three candidates gets more than 375 votes, that will be enough to win.

For both districts, I think the average age of voters this November will be older than 60.

After the jump, I’ll lay out the numbers behind those estimates. Continue reading “Analysis: Small, older batch of voters will decide Bloomington municipal elections this year”

Beacon Benchmark: What is this place?

Note: Beacon Benchmark columns are a way for the B Square Beacon’s writer to give readers some regular behind-the-scenes insight into this website, which aims to serve some of the news and information needs of Bloomington, Indiana.  

On Sunday morning, my wife and I ate breakfast at the Village Deli on Kirkwood Avenue. It is a weekly habit.

The server concluded the order-taking ritual with a friendly, “Thanks, ya’ll.”

Hearing that version of the second-person plural pronoun reminded me of a Blaze Foley lyric from a tune called Clay Pigeons: “Tryin’ to hide my sorrow from the people I meet/ And get along with it all/ Go down where the people say ‘Y’all'” Continue reading “Beacon Benchmark: What is this place?”

Monroe County Public Library a source of map collections showing Bloomington’s past annexations

In 2017, Bloomington began the process of annexing area into the city that would have increased the land area of the city by about 60 percent.


Later that year, the state’s General Assembly built into the budget bill a change to annexation law that effectively singled out Bloomington and paused any annexation plans for five years.

Bloomington filed a lawsuit, contending that the General Assembly violated two different parts of the state’s constitution: One limiting bills to single topics and another prohibiting special legislation.

On Tuesday, March 26, the two sides will be giving oral arguments in front of Judge Frank M. Nardi to complement the written arguments and counterarguments they’ve already submitted to the court. Continue reading “Monroe County Public Library a source of map collections showing Bloomington’s past annexations”