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Election Day Projections for Fort Wayne Mayoral Race

Rebecca Green
Northeast Indiana Public Radio/WBOI


It is municipal election day in northeast Indiana. For candidates who have been trying to get voters to the polls since the primary and the start of early voting, every ballot cast makes a big difference. Historically one in four registered voters turnout for Fort Wayne city elections. 

The last two times Mayor Tom Henry has been on the ballot as an incumbent, between twenty and thirty percent of registered voters have cast ballots, with 26.21 percent in 2011 and 22.49 percent in 2015. In both 2011 and 2015, Henry received over 23,000 votes.

For Republican challenger Tim Smith, the math is simple. If Henry’s floor stays at 23,000, Smith will need not only the 50 percent plus one to win the race, but a higher voter turnout overall. Henry’s closest contest was in 2011 with less than 2,000 votes separating him from his challenger Paula Hughes, and voter turnout exceeded 26 percent.

At polling places throughout Fort Wayne, traffic has met expectations so far. Turnout at some locations in the 2nd District was a little slow. Republican councilman Russ Jehl is running unopposed in this year’s race and that takes one contest that could have generated voter interest off the ballot. The 4th District is a different story. Stephanie Fitzharris started her day canvassing for Republican candidates at Saint Elizabeth Anne Seton Catholic Church before heading over to Aldersgate United Methodist Church on Getz Road.

“Turnout has been real good this time. Starting at six a.m. it was steady, a little dropoff at ten, but things are picking back up again, so I’d say this is a really well attended election.” Harris said.

There’s also the swinging of the political pendulum to take into account. After twelve years of Henry’s leadership, Fitzharris and other GOP canvassers may get their wish if enough Fort Wayne voters decide it’s time for a change. National politics can also influence local races. Henry was first elected mayor in 2007 during Republican President George W Bush’s second term and Henry received over 31,000 votes. No mayoral candidate, Republican or Democrat has exceeded that total since. 

Polls are open until 6pm.