Indiana voter turnout, registration cries out for improvement

By Christin Nance Lazerus, Chicago Post-Tribune

When it comes to voting, Indiana’s recent record is pretty dismal Ñ ranking dead last in the nation in voter turnout in the 2014 midterm elections according to the 2015 Indiana Civic Health Index. But Former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton and former Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard hope may be found at a place as familiar as the dining room table. Hamilton and Shepard said those measures indicate that much work needs to be done in terms of engaging citizens in their community and committing to public service. “Community engagement doesn’t just happen,” Hamilton said. “Democracy is not a spectator sport. We’ve inherited a marvelous state and our job is to make it better for the next generation.” Hamilton and Shepard discussed the latest report on Tuesday afternoon as part of Indiana University Northwest’s Chancellor’s Commission for Community Engagement. In the 2014 midterm election, Indiana ranked last in the nation with only 27.8 percent of registered voters turning out to vote Ñ compared to the national average of 35.9 percent. Midterms always see turnout dropoffs compared to presidential years, but even in 2012, Indiana’s turnout was below the national average Ñ 59.3 percent compared to 61.8 percent. In terms of registration, 74.3 percent of surburban residents are registered to vote, compared to 69.5 percent of ubran residents and 60 percent of rural residents. “One of the chief reasons that people vote is they’re cynical about politics and they don’t trust politicians,” Hamilton said. “But an antidote to cynicism is involvement.” Hamilton told a story of a mother whose daughter was killed at a railroad crossing, but she channeled her grief into ensuring that the state monitors the safety of all railroad crossings. ~1@BODYURL[id=114jbcurl1298]@