It’s no secret that Hoosier participation in elections is among the lowest in the nation and has been declining in comparison to other states for at least a decade.
The Indiana Civic Health Index, a project of the Indiana Bar Foundation and several partner organizations, has been tracking the alarming slippage since 2011.
In presidential election years, the percentage of eligible Hoosiers registered to vote dropped from 71.3% in 2012 to 69.3% in 2020, the index shows. Nationally, Indiana’s ranking for voter registration fell from 37th to 39th.
Of the fraction of Hoosiers actually registered to vote in presidential elections, 59.3% did so in 2012. That percentage rose slightly in 2020, to 60.6%. But Indiana’s national ranking fell eight spots, putting it in the abysmal bottom five for voter turnout.
Of course, the numbers are much worse and more startling in municipal election years like this one. That’s why we encourage every eligible person to register and vote this year to make their voices heard in marquee mayoral races in Indianapolis and Carmel down to council races in the region’s smallest cities.
Four years ago, the city election in Indianapolis drew a dreadful 24% of registered voters to the polls.
That’s likely because the mayor’s race was only weakly contested, as Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett handily won a second term against woefully underfunded Republican Jim Merritt.
This year, Hogsett faces much stiffer competition from wealthy businessman Jefferson Shreve, who is largely and substantially self-funding his campaign.
Our hope is that the contest will bring a much larger number of voters to the polls on Nov. 7, so they can have a say in which mayoral candidate not only has the best public safety or economic development plan for the city but also has the best overall vision for the future.
All of Indianapolis’ 25 City-County Council seats also are up for election this year, and voters should be concerned about how those candidates will make sure their streets are paved and their trash is collected.
We hope for a much larger turnout in city elections across the state and throughout central Indiana as leaders are selected to lead their communities.
But in order to encourage a larger turnout, we also hope more people will take the time to register to vote by the Oct. 10 deadline at www.indianavoters.com or in person at their local voter registration office.
Before the Nov. 7 election, we also urge Hoosiers to educate themselves about their local candidates by attending forums and debates, reading trusted news accounts and being wary of misinformation that can be generated by artificial intelligence, as pointed out in this issue of IBJ by ReCenter Indiana.
Our democracy and our future depend on an informed and active electorate. Please get out and do your part. Early voting begins Oct. 11.•
To comment, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.