INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time in nearly a quarter-century, a majority of registered Hoosier voters cast a ballot in the midterm elections.
Data released Wednesday by the secretary of state's office shows Indiana voter turnout in last month's general election was 51 percent.
That was considerably higher than the 2014 midterms when just 30 percent of registered voters turned up at the polls.
In fact, this year's turnout came close to reaching the 58 percent voter participation rate recorded in Indiana for the 2016 presidential election.
The last time Indiana saw more than half its registered voters cast a ballot in a midterm election was 1994, when participation totaled 54 percent.
"Both of these election cycles highlight how candidates and issues drive higher turnout in elections," said Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a Republican.
Turnout stagnated in subsequent midterms at 44 percent in 1998, 39 percent in 2002, 40 percent in 2006 and 41 percent in 2010, before tumbling to 30 percent in 2014 when there was no U.S. Senate race on the ballot.
This year's voter turnout in Northwest Indiana was just below the state average in Lake County (47 percent) and LaPorte County (49 percent), and slightly above in Porter County (53 percent).
In the 2016 presidential election, voter turnout was 57 percent in Lake County, 55 percent in LaPorte County and 62 percent in Porter County.
The highest turnout in the state this year was recorded in Henry County at 64 percent. Vigo and Madison counties saw the fewest Hoosiers acting to choose their elected officials with just 44 percent casting a ballot.
Similar to 2016, nearly one in three votes were submitted prior to Election Day this year, either through in-person early voting or mail-in absentee.
Altogether, 2,308,258 ballots were cast for the Nov. 6 election by Indiana's 4,526,663 registered voters, according to the secretary of state's office.
Indiana's turnout rate may have gotten a slight bump thanks to Lawson's purge last year of nearly half a million Indiana voter registrations associated with individuals no longer receiving mail at their registered address and who failed to participate in the 2014, 2015 or 2016 elections.
State records show there were 302,580 fewer registered voters on the rolls in 2018 compared to 2016.
Absent the purge, Indiana's voter turnout rate this year would have been 48 percent.