Voter turnout was sad

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Commentary by Larry Lannan

2013 was supposed to be a year without an election. Normally in Indiana, the year after a presidential election allows a breather for the political types. Not so in Fishers.

The local school system decided to ask the voters for more property tax money. The extra funds would be used for senior academies for both local high schools and some needed maintenance work.

The Hamilton Southeastern School Board and administration have been making the case for approval of this referendum for several months. The extra students are already in the pipeline, school officials said, and failure to approve the plebiscite would require the high schools to place many classes in trailers.

The election was held May 7. As the votes were counted that night, the usual contingent of reporters and school officials were on hand at the Noblesville County Government Building. Hamilton County Election Administrator Kathy Richardson and her staff counted the votes as the precincts began to report the results.

We all expected the results to be ready early in the evening. However, one precinct was late in reporting and for a technical reason, the missing precinct delayed about half the vote total being tallied.

With half the votes counted, there was roughly 68-percent support for the referendum. HSE Schools Supt. Dr. Brian Smith was still being cautious, not willing to make any comments for the media on hand. HSE’s long-time chief financial officer Mike Reuter was also on hand. Both men seemed a bit nervous as they waited for the results.

Once Kathy Richardson opened the door with the results, everyone wanted to look at the results. The referendum passed by a wide margin, garnering more than 69 percent of the vote. There was a sense of relief in the room.

Dr. Smith thanked the staff and volunteers that had worked so hard to pass the referendum. Now the real work of constructing the senior academies will begin. The projection is for the academies at each high school to be ready by the start of school in August 2015.

In a previous commentary in this space, I had asked voters in the Fishers area to study the issues and vote in the election. There is no way to quantify whether people studied the issues, but it is sad that fewer than 10 percent of the registered voters actually cast their ballots.

When I voted just after 6 a.m. at Fishers Junior High School, I saw Dr. Smith working the polls. I was also there when Dr. Smith got the news the referendum had passed. It was a long day for the HSE superintendent that ended on a good note.


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